Murine isoforms of UDP-GlcNAc 2-epimerase/ManNAc kinase: Secondary structures, expression profiles, and response to ManNAc therapy

Glycoconj J. 2013 Aug;30(6):609-18. doi: 10.1007/s10719-012-9459-1. Epub 2012 Dec 25.


The bifunctional enzyme UDP-GlcNAc 2-epimerase/ManNAc kinase (GNE) catalyzes the first two committed steps in sialic acid synthesis. Non-allosteric GNE gene mutations cause the muscular disorder GNE myopathy (also known as hereditary inclusion body myopathy), whose exact pathology remains unknown. Increased knowledge of GNE regulation, including isoform regulation, may help elucidate the pathology of GNE myopathy. While eight mRNA transcripts encoding human GNE isoforms are described, we only identified two mouse Gne mRNA transcripts, encoding mGne1 and mGne2, homologous to human hGNE1 and hGNE2. Orthologs of the other human isoforms were not identified in mice. mGne1 appeared as the ubiquitously expressed, major mouse isoform. The mGne2 encoding transcript is differentially expressed and may act as a tissue-specific regulator of sialylation. mGne2 expression appeared significantly increased the first 2 days of life, possibly reflecting the high sialic acid demand during this period. Tissues of the knock-in Gne p.M712T mouse model had similar mGne transcript expression levels among genotypes, indicating no effect of the mutation on mRNA expression. However, upon treatment of these mice with N-acetylmannosamine (ManNAc, a Gne substrate, sialic acid precursor, and proposed therapy for GNE myopathy), Gne transcript expression, in particular mGne2, increased significantly, likely resulting in increased Gne enzymatic activities. This dual effect of ManNAc supplementation (increased flux through the sialic acid pathway and increased Gne activity) needs to be considered when treating GNE myopathy patients with ManNAc. In addition, the existence and expression of GNE isoforms needs consideration when designing other therapeutic strategies for GNE myopathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Distal Myopathies / drug therapy
  • Distal Myopathies / genetics
  • Hexosamines / therapeutic use*
  • Isoenzymes / chemistry
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multienzyme Complexes / chemistry
  • Multienzyme Complexes / genetics
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism*
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Organ Specificity
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Hexosamines
  • Isoenzymes
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • UDP-N-acetylglucosamine 2-epimerase - N-acetylmannosamine kinase
  • N-acetylmannosamine

Supplementary concepts

  • Distal myopathy, Nonaka type