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J Biol Chem. 2001 Aug 3;276(31):28641-9. Epub 2001 May 16.

Location and mechanism of alpha 2,6-sialyltransferase dimer formation. Role of cysteine residues in enzyme dimerization, localization, activity, and processing.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


A significant proportion of the alpha2,6-sialyltransferase of protein Asn-linked glycosylation (ST6Gal I) forms disulfide-bonded dimers that exhibit decreased activity, but retain the ability to bind asialoglycoprotein substrates. Here, we have investigated the subcellular location and mechanism of ST6Gal I dimer formation, as well as the role of Cys residues in the enzyme's trafficking, localization, and catalytic activity. Pulse-chase analysis demonstrated that the ST6Gal I disulfide-bonded dimer forms in the endoplasmic reticulum. Mutagenesis experiments showed that Cys-24 in the transmembrane region is required for dimerization, while catalytic domain Cys residues are required for trafficking and catalytic activity. Replacement of Cys-181 and Cys-332 generated proteins that are largely retained in the endoplasmic reticulum and minimally active or inactive, respectively. Replacement of Cys-350 or Cys-361 inactivated the enzyme without compromising its localization or processing, suggesting that these amino acids are part of the enzyme's active site. Replacement of Cys-139 or Cys-403 generated proteins that are catalytically active and appear to be more stably localized in the Golgi, since they exhibited decreased cleavage and secretion. The Cys-139 mutant also exhibited increased dimer formation suggesting that ST6Gal I dimers may be critical in the oligomerization process involved in stable ST6Gal I Golgi localization.

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