Pofut1 point-mutations that disrupt O-fucosyltransferase activity destabilize the protein and abolish Notch1 signaling during mouse somitogenesis

PLoS One. 2017 Nov 2;12(11):e0187248. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187248. eCollection 2017.


The segmental pattern of the vertebrate body is established via the periodic formation of somites from the presomitic mesoderm (PSM). This periodical process is controlled by the cyclic and synchronized activation of Notch signaling in the PSM. Protein O-fucosyltransferase1 (Pofut1), which transfers O-fucose to the EGF domains of the Notch1 receptor, is indispensable for Notch signaling activation. The Drosophila homologue Ofut1 was reported to control Notch localization via two different mechanisms, working as a chaperone for Notch or as a regulator of Notch endocytosis. However, these were found to be independent of O-fucosyltransferase activity because the phenotypes were rescued by Ofut1 mutants lacking O-fucosyltransferase activity. Pofut1 may also be involved in the Notch receptor localization in mice. However, the contribution of enzymatic activity of Pofut1 to the Notch receptor dynamics remains to be elucidated. In order to clarify the importance of the O-fucosyltransferase activity of Pofut1 for Notch signaling activation and the protein localization in the PSM, we established mice carrying point mutations at the 245th a.a. or 370-372th a.a., highly conserved amino-acid sequences whose mutations disrupt the O-fucosyltransferase activity of both Drosophila Ofut1 and mammalian Pofut1, with the CRISPR/Cas9 mediated genome-engineering technique. Both mutants displayed the same severely perturbed somite formation and Notch1 subcellular localization defects as the Pofut1 null mutants. In the mutants, Pofut1 protein, but not RNA, became undetectable by E9.5. Furthermore, both wild-type and mutant Pofut1 proteins were degraded through lysosome dependent machinery. Pofut1 protein loss in the point mutant embryos caused the same phenotypes as those observed in Pofut1 null embryos.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats
  • Down-Regulation
  • Fucosyltransferases / genetics
  • Fucosyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Point Mutation*
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • Receptor, Notch1 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Somites / growth & development*


  • Notch1 protein, mouse
  • Receptor, Notch1
  • Fucosyltransferases
  • Pofut1 protein, mouse

Grant support

This work was supported by Transdisciplinary Research Integration Center of the Research Organization of Information and Systems (YS).