Donor assists acceptor binding and catalysis of human α1,6-fucosyltransferase

ACS Chem Biol. 2013 Aug 16;8(8):1830-40. doi: 10.1021/cb400140u. Epub 2013 Jun 19.


α1,6-Core-fucosyltransferase (FUT8) is a vital enzyme in mammalian physiological and pathophysiological processes such as tumorigenesis and progress of, among others, non-small cell lung cancer and colon carcinoma. It was also shown that therapeutic antibodies have a dramatically higher efficacy if the α1,6-fucosyl residue is absent. However, specific and potent inhibitors for FUT8 and related enzymes are lacking. Hence, it is crucial to elucidate the structural basis of acceptor binding and the catalytic mechanism. We present here the first structural model of FUT8 in complex with its acceptor and donor molecules. An unusually large acceptor, i.e., a hexasaccharide from the core of N-glycans, is required as minimal structure. Acceptor substrate binding of FUT8 is being dissected experimentally by STD NMR and SPR and theoretically by molecular dynamics simulations. The acceptor binding site forms an unusually large and shallow binding site. Binding of the acceptor to the enzyme is much faster and stronger if the donor is present. This is due to strong hydrogen bonding between O6 of the proximal N-acetylglucosamine and an oxygen atom of the β-phosphate of GDP-fucose. Therefore, we propose an ordered Bi Bi mechanism for FUT8 where the donor molecule binds first. No specific amino acid is present that could act as base during catalysis. Our results indicate a donor-assisted mechanism, where an oxygen of the β-phosphate deprotonates the acceptor. Knowledge of the mechanism of FUT8 is now being used for rational design of targeted inhibitors to address metastasis and prognosis of carcinomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Catalysis
  • Fucosyltransferases / chemistry
  • Fucosyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation*
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / genetics


  • Peptides
  • Fucosyltransferases
  • Glycoprotein 6-alpha-L-fucosyltransferase