A modeling framework for the study of protein glycosylation

Biotechnol Bioeng. 1996 Apr 5;50(1):73-90. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0290(19960405)50:1<73::AID-BIT9>3.0.CO;2-Z.


The key step in the asparagine-linked glycosylation of secretory proteins is the transfer of oligosaccharide from a dolichol precursor to the polypeptide at an Asp-X-Ser/Thr (NXS/T) consensus sequence. It is often the case, both in cultured cells and in vivo, that this reaction does not occur for every molecule of a given protein. Thus, the cell may create two protein populations, one bearing and one lacking oligosaccharide, for each potential glycosylation site. We present a structured kinetic modeling framework of the initial glycosylation event based on a balance of available glycosylation sites through the region of endoplasmic reticulum lumen proximal to the membrane. Oligosaccharyltransferase, a multimeric protein complex, catalyzes the sugar transfer. This enzyme is integral to the endoplasmic reticulum membrane, and it is thought to act cotranslationally. The nascent polypeptide may also fold in such a way as to prevent glycosylation from occurring. The net result is a potentially complex spatial and temporal relationship among translation, glycosylation, and other cotranslational events. Model results predict how fractional glycosylation site occupancy may depend on protein synthesis rate, oligosaccharyldolichol availability, and mRNA elongation rate. Although we are currently unable to quantitatively compare predicted to experimentally obtained fractional site occupancy, we are able to determine qualitative trends which may be confirmed experimentally.