Co-expression of two mammalian glycosyltransferases in the yeast cell wall allows synthesis of sLex

FEMS Yeast Res. 2005 Feb;5(4-5):341-50. doi: 10.1016/j.femsyr.2004.11.007.


Interactions between selectins and their oligosaccharide-decorated counter-receptors play an important role in the initiation of leukocyte extravasation in inflammation. L-selectin ligands are O-glycosylated with sulphated sialyl Lewis X epitopes (sulpho-sLex). Synthetic sLex oligosaccharides have been shown to inhibit adhesion of lymphocytes to endothelium at sites of inflammation. Thus, they could be used to prevent undesirable inflammatory reactions such as rejection of organ transplants. In vitro synthesis of sLex glycans is dependent on the availability of recombinant glycosyltransferases. Here we expressed the catalytic domain of human alpha-1,3-fucosyltransferase VII in the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Pichia pastoris. To promote proper folding and secretion competence of this catalytic domain in yeast, it was fused to the Hsp150 delta carrier, which is an N-terminal fragment of a secretory glycoprotein of S. cerevisiae. In both yeasts, the catalytic domain acquired an active conformation and the fusion protein was externalised, but remained mostly attached to the cell wall in a non-covalent fashion. Incubation of intact S. cerevisiae or P. pastoris cells with GDP-[14C]fucose and sialyl-alpha-2,3-N-acetyllactosamine resulted in synthesis of radioactive sLex, which diffused to the medium. Finally, we constructed an S. cerevisiae strain co-expressing the catalytic domains of alpha-2,3-sialyltransferase and alpha-1,3-fucosyltransferase VII, which were targeted to the cell wall. When these cells were provided with N-acetyllactosamine, CMP-sialic acid and GDP-[14C]fucose, radioactive sLex was produced to the medium. These data imply that yeast cells can provide a self-perpetuating source of fucosyltransferase activity immobilized in the cell wall, useful for the in vitro synthesis of sLex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / metabolism
  • Cell Wall / enzymology*
  • Cell Wall / genetics
  • Fucosyltransferases / genetics
  • Fucosyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism*
  • Pichia / enzymology*
  • Pichia / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism
  • Sialyl Lewis X Antigen
  • Sialyltransferases / genetics
  • Sialyltransferases / metabolism*
  • beta-Galactoside alpha-2,3-Sialyltransferase


  • Glycoproteins
  • HSP150 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Sialyl Lewis X Antigen
  • Fucosyltransferases
  • galactoside 3-fucosyltransferase
  • Sialyltransferases
  • Acetylglucosamine
  • beta-Galactoside alpha-2,3-Sialyltransferase