Regulation of I-branched poly-N-acetyllactosamine synthesis. Concerted actions by I-extension enzyme, I-branching enzyme, and beta1,4-galactosyltransferase I

J Biol Chem. 1999 Apr 2;274(14):9296-304. doi: 10.1074/jbc.274.14.9296.


I-branched poly-N-acetyllactosamine is a unique carbohydrate composed of N-acetyllactosamine branches attached to linear poly-N-acetyllactosamine, which is synthesized by I-branching beta1, 6-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase. I-branched poly-N-acetyllactosamine can carry bivalent functional oligosaccharides such as sialyl Lewisx, which provide much better carbohydrate ligands than monovalent functional oligosaccharides. In the present study, we first demonstrate that I-branching beta1, 6-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase cloned from human PA-1 embryonic carcinoma cells transfers beta1,6-linked GlcNAc preferentially to galactosyl residues of N-acetyllactosamine close to nonreducing terminals. We then demonstrate that among various beta1, 4-galactosyltransferases (beta4Gal-Ts), beta4Gal-TI is most efficient in adding a galactose to linear and branched poly-N-acetyllactosamines. When a beta1,6-GlcNAc branched poly-N-acetyllactosamine was incubated with a mixture of beta4Gal-TI and i-extension beta1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase, the major product was the oligosaccharide with one N-acetyllactosamine extension on the linear Galbeta1-->4GlcNAcbeta1-->3 side chain. Only a minor product contained galactosylated I-branch without N-acetyllactosamine extension. This finding was explained by the fact that beta4Gal-TI adds a galactose poorly to beta1,6-GlcNAc attached to linear poly-N-acetyllactosamines, while beta1, 3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase and beta4Gal-TI efficiently add N-acetyllactosamine to linear poly-N-acetyllactosamines. Together, these results strongly suggest that galactosylation of I-branch is a rate-limiting step in I-branched poly-N-acetyllactosamine synthesis, allowing poly-N-acetyllactosamine extension mostly along the linear poly-N-acetyllactosamine side chain. These findings are entirely consistent with previous findings that poly-N-acetyllactosamines in human erythrocytes, PA-1 embryonic carcinoma cells, and rabbit erythrocytes contain multiple, short I-branches.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Galactosyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Biological
  • N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Polysaccharides / biosynthesis*
  • Rabbits
  • Teratoma / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Polysaccharides
  • poly-N-acetyllactosamine
  • N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase IGnT
  • Galactosyltransferases
  • N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases