Proteoglycans (PGs) are essential components of the animal extracellular matrix and are required for cell adhesion, migration, signaling, and immune function. PGs are composed of a core protein and long glycosaminoglycan (GAG) chains, which often specify PG function. GAG biosynthesis is initiated by peptide O-xylosyltransferases, which transfer xylose onto selected serine residues in the core proteins. We have determined crystal structures of human xylosyltransferase 1 (XT1) in complex with the sugar donor, UDP-xylose, and various acceptor peptides. The structures reveal unique active-site features that, in conjunction with functional experiments, explain the substrate specificity of XT1. A constriction within the peptide binding cleft requires the acceptor serine to be followed by glycine or alanine. The remainder of the cleft can accommodate a wide variety of sequences, but with a general preference for acidic residues. These findings provide a framework for understanding the selectivity of GAG attachment.
Keywords: X-ray crystallography; enzyme catalysis; glycosyltransferase; proteoglycan.
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