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PLoS One. 2013 May 3;8(5):e62768. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062768. Print 2013.

Identification of bacterial protein O-oligosaccharyltransferases and their glycoprotein substrates.

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School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


O-glycosylation of proteins in Neisseria meningitidis is catalyzed by PglL, which belongs to a protein family including WaaL O-antigen ligases. We developed two hidden Markov models that identify 31 novel candidate PglL homologs in diverse bacterial species, and describe several conserved sequence and structural features. Most of these genes are adjacent to possible novel target proteins for glycosylation. We show that in the general glycosylation system of N. meningitidis, efficient glycosylation of additional protein substrates requires local structural similarity to the pilin acceptor site. For some Neisserial PglL substrates identified by sensitive analytical approaches, only a small fraction of the total protein pool is modified in the native organism, whereas others are completely glycosylated. Our results show that bacterial protein O-glycosylation is common, and that substrate selection in the general Neisserial system is dominated by recognition of structural homology.

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