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J Neurochem. 2001 Dec;79(5):1080-9.

Cytosolic O-glycosylation is abundant in nerve terminals.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, School of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21205-2185, USA.


Phosphorylation plays a key role in regulating growth cone migration and protein trafficking in nerve terminals. Here we show that nerve terminal proteins contain another abundant post-translational modification: beta-N-acetylglucosamine linked to hydroxyls of serines or threonines (O-GlcNAc(1)). O-GlcNAc modifications are essential for embryogenesis and mounting evidence suggests that O-GlcNAc is a regulatory modification that affects many phosphorylated proteins. We show that the activity and expression of O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) and N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase (O-GlcNAcase), the two enzymes regulating O-GlcNAc modifications, are present in nerve terminal structures (synaptosomes) and are particularily abundant in the cytosol of synaptosomes. Numerous synaptosome proteins are highly modified with O-GlcNAc. Although most of these proteins are present in low abundance, we identified by proteomic analysis three neuron-specific O-GlcNAc modified proteins: collapsin response mediator protein-2 (CRMP-2), ubiquitin carboxyl hydrolase-L1 (UCH-L1) and beta-synuclein. CRMP-2, which is involved in growth cone collapse, is a major O-GlcNAc modified protein in synaptosomes. All three proteins are implicated in regulatory cascades that mediate intracellular signaling or neurodegenerative diseases. We propose that O-GlcNAc modifications in the nerve terminal help regulate the functions of these and other synaptosome proteins, and that O-GlcNAc may play a role in neurodegenerative disease.

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