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Biochemistry. 1989 Jun 27;28(13):5525-36.

Role of glycosylation on the conformation and chain dimensions of O-linked glycoproteins: light-scattering studies of ovine submaxillary mucin.

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W. A. Bernbaum Center for Cystic Fibrosis Research, Cleveland, Ohio.


The effect of carbohydrate on the conformation and chain dimensions of mucous glycoproteins was investigated by using light-scattering and circular dichroism studies of native, asialo, and deglycosylated (apo) ovine submaxillary gland mucin (OSM). OSM is a large glycoprotein that is extensively O-glycosylated by the disaccharide alpha-NeuNAc(2-6)alpha-GalNAc-O-Ser/Thr. Measurements of root mean square radius of gyration, (Rg2)1/2, and hydrodynamic radius, Rh, for OSM and its derivatives were carried out as a function of molecular weight by using static and dynamic light-scattering techniques. The results were fit to the wormlike chain model for describing the dimensions of extended polymer chains. By use of this model, values of h, the length per amino acid residue, and q, the persistence length, which is a measure of chain stiffness, were obtained. These values were then used to assess the conformation and degree of chain extension of intact OSM and its partially and totally deglycosylated derivatives. Native and asialo mucin are found to be highly extended random coils, with asialo mucin having a somewhat less extended structure than intact mucin. Upon the complete removal of the carbohydrate side chains, the extended structure characteristic of intact and asialo mucin collapses to chain dimensions typical of denatured globular proteins. Conformational analyses based on the rotational isomeric state model were also performed by using the probability maps of N-acetyl-O-(GalNAc)-Thr-N-methylamide as starting conformations for native and asialo mucin. The results suggest that both the glycosylated and nonglycosylated residues in native mucin may occupy a small region of conformational space having -90 degrees less than phi less than -60 degrees and 60 degrees less than psi less than 180 degrees, while a slightly broader range is found to fit asialo mucin. The proposed conformations obtained for these mucins are consistent with their circular dichroism spectra. Significantly larger ranges of phi and psi values were obtained for apo mucin, as would be expected from its circular dichroism spectra and increased flexibility. These results indicate the expanded mucin structure is the direct result of peptide core glycosylation. These observations together with the results of earlier studies indicate that steric interactions of the O-linked GalNAc residue with the peptide core are primarily responsible for the expanded mucin structure and that these perturbations extend to the nonglycosylated amino acid residues. This expanded mucin conformation must be a significant determinant of the viscoelastic properties of these molecules in solution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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