Determination of the substrate specificities of N-acetyl-d-glucosaminyltransferase

Biochemistry. 2006 Oct 10;45(40):12358-65. doi: 10.1021/bi060844g.


Heparan sulfate plays a wide range of physiological and pathological roles. Heparan sulfate consists of glucosamine and glucuronic/iduronic acid repeating disaccharides with various sulfations. Synthesis of structurally defined heparan sulfate oligosaccharides remains a challenge. Access to nonsulfated and unepimerized heparan sulfate backbone structures represents an essential step toward de novo enzymatic synthesis of heparan sulfate. The nonsulfated, unepimerized backbone heparan sulfate is similar to the capsular polysaccharide from Escherichia coli strain K5. The biosynthesis of this capsular polysaccharide involves in N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase (KfiA) and d-glucuronyltransferase (KfiC). In this study, we report the characterization of purified KfiA. KfiA was expressed in a C-terminal six-His fusion protein in BL21 star cells coexpressing chaperone proteins GroEL and GroES. The recombinant KfiA was purified to homogeneity with a Ni-agarose column. The binding affinities of various UDP-sugars for KfiA were determined using isothermal calorimetry titration, indicating that both the N-acetyl group and sugar type may be essential for donor substrates to bind KfiA. Kinetic analysis of KfiA toward different sizes of oligosaccharide revealed that KfiA is less sensitive to the size of the acceptor substrates. The results from this study open a new approach for the synthesis of the heparan sulfate backbone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Capsules
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism*
  • Glycosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / biosynthesis*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • capsular polysaccharide K5
  • Glycosyltransferases
  • KfiA protein, E coli
  • KfiC protein, E coli
  • N-Acetylglucosaminyltransferases
  • exostosin-1