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J Biol Chem. 2009 Jan 30;284(5):3294-305. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M805502200. Epub 2008 Nov 21.

Structural and mechanistic insights into lunatic fringe from a kinetic analysis of enzyme mutants.

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Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Institute for Cell and Developmental Biology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5215, USA.


The Notch receptor is critical for proper development where it orchestrates numerous cell fate decisions. The Fringe family of beta1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferases are regulators of this pathway. Fringe enzymes add N-acetylglucosamine to O-linked fucose on the epidermal growth factor repeats of Notch. Here we have analyzed the reaction catalyzed by Lunatic Fringe (Lfng) in detail. A mutagenesis strategy for Lfng was guided by a multiple sequence alignment of Fringe proteins and solutions from docking an epidermal growth factor-like O-fucose acceptor substrate onto a homology model of Lfng. We targeted three main areas as follows: residues that could help resolve where the fucose binds, residues in two conserved loops not observed in the published structure of Manic Fringe, and residues predicted to be involved in UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) donor specificity. We utilized a kinetic analysis of mutant enzyme activity toward the small molecule acceptor substrate 4-nitrophenyl-alpha-L-fucopyranoside to judge their effect on Lfng activity. Our results support the positioning of O-fucose in a specific orientation to the catalytic residue. We also found evidence that one loop closes off the active site coincident with, or subsequent to, substrate binding. We propose a mechanism whereby the ordering of this short loop may alter the conformation of the catalytic aspartate. Finally, we identify several residues near the UDP-GlcNAc-binding site, which are specifically permissive toward UDP-GlcNAc utilization.

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