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Biochimie. 1988 Nov;70(11):1521-33.

The biosynthesis of highly branched N-glycans: studies on the sequential pathway and functional role of N-acetylglucosaminyltransferases I, II, III, IV, V and VI.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


At least 6 N-acetylglucosaminyltransferases (GlcNAc-T I, II, III, IV, V and VI) are involved in initiating the synthesis of the various branches found in complex asparagine-linked oligosaccharides (N-glycans), as indicated below: GlcNAc beta 1-6 GlcNAc-T V GlcNAc beta 1-4 GlcNAc-T VI GlcNAc beta 1-2Man alpha 1-6 GlcNAc-T II GlcNAc beta 1-4Man beta 1-4-R GlcNAc T III GlcNAc beta 1-4Man alpha 1-3 GlcNAc-T IV GlcNAc beta 1-2 GlcNAc-T I where R is GlcNAc beta 1-4(+/- Fuc alpha 1-6)GlcNAcAsn-X. HPLC was used to study the substrate specificities of these GlcNAc-T and the sequential pathways involved in the biosynthesis of highly branched N-glycans in hen oviduct (I. Brockhausen, J.P. Carver and H. Schachter (1988) Biochem. Cell Biol. 66, 1134-1151). The following sequential rules have been established: GlcNAc-T I must act before GlcNAc-T II, III and IV; GlcNAc-T II, IV and V cannot act after GlcNAc-T III, i.e., on bisected substrates; GlcNAc-T VI can act on both bisected and non-bisected substrates; both Glc-NAc-T I and II must act before GlcNAc-T V and VI; GlcNAc-T V cannot act after GlcNAc-T VI. GlcNAc-T V is the only enzyme among the 6 transferases cited above which can be essayed in the absence of Mn2+. In studies on the possible functional role of N-glycan branching, we have measured GlcNAc-T III in pre-neoplastic rat liver nodules (S. Narasimhan, H. Schachter and S. Rajalakshmi (1988) J. Biol. Chem. 263, 1273-1281). The nodules were initiated by administration of a single dose of carcinogen 1,2-dimethyl-hydrazine.2 HCl 18 h after partial hepatectomy and promoted by feeding a diet supplemented with 1% orotic acid for 32-40 weeks. The nodules had significant GlcNAc-T III activity (1.2-2.2 nmol/h/mg), whereas the surrounding liver, regenerating liver 24 h after partial hepatectomy and control liver from normal rats had negligible activity (0.02-0.03 nmol/h/mg). These results suggest that GlcNAc-T III is induced at the pre-neoplastic stage in liver carcinogenesis and are consistent with the reported presence of bisecting GlcNAc residues in N-glycans from rat and human hepatoma gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase and their absence in enzyme from normal liver of rats and humans (A. Kobata and K. Yamashita (1984) Pure Appl. Chem. 56, 821-832).

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