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J Am Chem Soc. 2003 Mar 5;125(9):2455-61.

Sialic acid biosynthesis: stereochemistry and mechanism of the reaction catalyzed by the mammalian UDP-N-acetylglucosamine 2-epimerase.

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Department of Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z1 Canada.


The bifunctional enzyme, UDP-N-acetylglucosamine 2-epimerase/ManNAc kinase, catalyzes the first two steps in the biosynthesis of the sialic acids in mammals. The epimerase domain converts UDP-GlcNAc into ManNAc and UDP. This paper demonstrates that alpha-ManNAc is the first formed anomer and therefore the reaction proceeds with a net retention of configuration at C-1. Studies in deuterated buffer show that solvent-derived deuterium is quantitatively incorporated into the C-2 position of the product during catalysis, but it is not incorporated into the remaining pool of substrate. This indicates that the inversion of stereochemistry is ultimately brought about by the removal and replacement of a proton at C-2 and is consistent with a two-base mechanism. Studies with (18)O-labeled UDP-GlcNAc show that the anomeric oxygen of the glycosyl phosphate bond departs with the UDP product and therefore the net hydrolysis reaction involves C-O bond cleavage. Incubation of the putative intermediate, 2-acetamidoglucal, with the enzyme resulted in a slow hydration reaction to give the product, ManNAc. Additional kinetic isotope effect and positional isotope exchange (PIX) experiments address the nature of the rate-determining step of the reaction and show that C-H bond cleavage is not rate limiting. Overall, these results support a reaction mechanism involving an anti-elimination of UDP to give 2-acetamidoglucal, followed by a syn-addition of water.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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