Identification of genes involved in the assembly and attachment of a novel flagellin N-linked tetrasaccharide important for motility in the archaeon Methanococcus maripaludis

Mol Microbiol. 2009 May;72(3):633-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2009.06671.x.


Recently, the flagellin proteins of Methanococcus maripaludis were found to harbour an N-linked tetrasaccharide composed of N-acetylgalactosamine, di-acetylated glucuronic acid, an acetylated and acetamidino-modified mannuronic acid linked to threonine, and a novel terminal sugar [(5S)-2-acetamido-2,4-dideoxy-5-O-methyl-α-L-erythro-hexos-5-ulo-1,5-pyranose]. To identify genes involved in the assembly and attachment of this glycan, in-frame deletions were constructed in putative glycan assembly genes. Successful deletion of genes encoding three glycosyltransferases and an oligosaccharyltransferase (Stt3p homologue) resulted in flagellins of decreased molecular masses as evidenced by immunoblotting, indicating partial or completely absent glycan structures. Deletion of the oligosaccharyltransferase or the glycosyltransferase responsible for the transfer of the second sugar in the chain resulted in flagellins that were not assembled into flagella filaments, as evidenced by electron microscopy. Deletions of the glycosyltransferases responsible for the addition of the third and terminal sugars in the glycan were confirmed by mass spectrometry analysis of purified flagellins from these mutants. Although flagellated, these mutants had decreased motility as evidenced by semi-swarm plate analysis with the presence of each additional sugar improving movement capabilities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Archaeal Proteins / genetics
  • Archaeal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Flagellin / genetics
  • Flagellin / metabolism*
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genes, Archaeal
  • Glycosyltransferases / genetics
  • Glycosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Hexosyltransferases / genetics
  • Hexosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Methanococcus / enzymology
  • Methanococcus / genetics*
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Polysaccharides
  • Flagellin
  • Glycosyltransferases
  • Hexosyltransferases
  • dolichyl-diphosphooligosaccharide - protein glycotransferase