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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Jan 19;96(2):406-11.

A beta-1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase with poly-N-acetyllactosamine synthase activity is structurally related to beta-1,3-galactosyltransferases.

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  • 1Institute of Physiology, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH 8057 Zürich, Switzerland.


Human and mouse cDNAs encoding a new beta-1, 3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase (beta3GnT) have been isolated from fetal and newborn brain libraries. The human and mouse cDNAs included ORFs coding for predicted type II transmembrane polypeptides of 329 and 325 aa, respectively. The human and mouse beta3GnT homologues shared 90% similarity. The beta3GnT gene was widely expressed in human and mouse tissues, although differences in the transcript levels were visible, thus indicating possible tissue-specific regulation mechanisms. The beta3GnT enzyme showed a marked preference for Gal(beta1-4)Glc(NAc)-based acceptors, whereas no activity was detected on type 1 Gal(beta1-3)GlcNAc and O-glycan core 1 Gal(beta1-3)GalNAc acceptors. The new beta3GnT enzyme was capable of both initiating and elongating poly-N-acetyllactosamine chains, which demonstrated its identity with the poly-N-acetyllactosamine synthase enzyme (E.C., showed no similarity with the i antigen beta3GnT enzyme described recently, and, strikingly, included several amino acid motifs in its protein that have been recently identified in beta-1,3-galactosyltransferase enzymes. The comparison between the new UDP-GlcNAc:betaGal beta3GnT and the three UDP-Gal:betaGlcNAc beta-1,3-galactosyltransferases-I, -II, and -III reveals glycosyltransferases that share conserved sequence motifs though exhibiting inverted donor and acceptor specificities. This suggests that the conserved amino acid motifs likely represent residues required for the catalysis of the glycosidic (beta1-3) linkage.

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