Defects in the N-linked oligosaccharide biosynthetic pathway in a Trypanosoma brucei glycosylation mutant

Alvaro Acosta-Serrano, Jessica O'Rear, George Quellhorst, Soo Hee Lee, Kuo Yuan Hwa, Sharon S. Krag, Paul T. Englund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concanavalin A (ConA) kills the procyclic (insect) form of Trypanosoma brucei by binding to its major surface glycoprotein, procyclin. We previously isolated a mutant cell line, ConA 1-1, that is less agglutinated and more resistant to ConA killing than are wild-type (WT) cells. Subsequently we found that the ConA resistance phenotype in this mutant is due to the fact that the procyclin either has no N-glycan or has an N-glycan with an altered structure. Here we demonstrate that the alteration in procyclin N-glycosylation correlates with two defects in the N-linked oligosaccharide biosynthetic pathway. First, ConA 1-1 has a defect in activity of polyprenol reductase, an enzyme involved in synthesis of dolichol. Metabolic incorporation of [3H] mevalonate showed that ConA 1-1 synthesizes equal amounts of dolichol and polyprenol, whereas WT cells make predominantly dolichol. Second, we found that ConA 1-1 synthesizes and accumulates an oligosaccharide lipid (OSL) precursor that is smaller in size than that from WT cells. The glycan of OSL in WT cells is apparently Man9GlcNAc2, whereas that from ConA 1-1 is Man7GlcNAc2. The smaller OSL glycan in the ConA 1-1 explains how some procyclin polypeptides bear a Man4GlcNAc 2 modified with a terminal N-acetyllactosamine group, which is poorly recognized by ConA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-263
Number of pages9
JournalEukaryotic Cell
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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