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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2004 Feb;11(2):163-70. Epub 2004 Jan 18.

Structural analysis of the sialyltransferase CstII from Campylobacter jejuni in complex with a substrate analog.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of British Columbia, 2146 Health Sciences Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z3, Canada.


Sialic acid terminates oligosaccharide chains on mammalian and microbial cell surfaces, playing critical roles in recognition and adherence. The enzymes that transfer the sialic acid moiety from cytidine-5'-monophospho-N-acetyl-neuraminic acid (CMP-NeuAc) to the terminal positions of these key glycoconjugates are known as sialyltransferases. Despite their important biological roles, little is understood about the mechanism or molecular structure of these membrane-associated enzymes. We report the first structure of a sialyltransferase, that of CstII from Campylobacter jejuni, a highly prevalent foodborne pathogen. Our structural, mutagenesis and kinetic data provide support for a novel mode of substrate binding and glycosyl transfer mechanism, including essential roles of a histidine (general base) and two tyrosine residues (coordination of the phosphate leaving group). This work provides a framework for understanding the activity of several sialyltransferases, from bacterial to human, and for the structure-based design of specific inhibitors.

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