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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 Jan;80(2):486-96. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03191-13. Epub 2013 Nov 8.

Substrate promiscuity: AglB, the archaeal oligosaccharyltransferase, can process a variety of lipid-linked glycans.

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Department of Life Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva, Israel.


Across evolution, N-glycosylation involves oligosaccharyltransferases that transfer lipid-linked glycans to selected Asn residues of target proteins. While these enzymes catalyze similar reactions in each domain, differences exist in terms of the chemical composition, length and degree of phosphorylation of the lipid glycan carrier, the sugar linking the glycan to the lipid carrier, and the composition and structure of the transferred glycan. To gain insight into how oligosaccharyltransferases cope with such substrate diversity, the present study analyzed the archaeal oligosaccharyltransferase AglB from four haloarchaeal species. Accordingly, it was shown that despite processing distinct lipid-linked glycans in their native hosts, AglB from Haloarcula marismortui, Halobacterium salinarum, and Haloferax mediterranei could readily replace their counterpart from Haloferax volcanii when introduced into Hfx. volcanii cells deleted of aglB. As the four enzymes show significant sequence and apparently structural homology, it appears that the functional similarity of the four AglB proteins reflects the relaxed substrate specificity of these enzymes. Such demonstration of AglB substrate promiscuity is important not only for better understanding of N-glycosylation in Archaea and elsewhere but also for efforts aimed at transforming Hfx. volcanii into a glycoengineering platform.

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