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Keywords:

  • diffusion difference spectroscopy;
  • prokaryotic glycoprotein;
  • surface layer (S-layer);
  • Thermoanaerobacterium thermosaccharolyticum;
  • tyrosine linkage

The surface-layer (S-layer) protein of Thermoanaerobacterium thermosaccharolyticum D120-70 contains glycosidically linked glycan chains with the repeating unit structure [RIGHTWARDS ARROW]4)[α-d-Galp-(1[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]2)]-α-l-Rhap-(1[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]3)[β-d-Glcp-(1[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]6)]-β-d-Manp-(1[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]4)-α-l-Rhap-(1[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]3)-α-d-Glcp-(1[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]. After proteolytic degradation of the S-layer glycoprotein, three glycopeptide pools were isolated, which were analyzed for their carbohydrate and amino-acid compositions. In all three pools, tyrosine was identified as the amino-acid constituent, and the carbohydrate compositions corresponded to the above structure. Native polysaccharide PAGE showed the specific heterogeneity of each pool. For examination of the carbohydrate–protein linkage region, the S-layer glycan chain was partially hydrolyzed with trifluoroacetic acid. 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopy, including a novel diffusion-edited difference experiment, showed the O-glycosidic linkage region β-d-glucopyranose[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]O-tyrosine. No evidence was found of additional sugars originating from a putative core region between the glycan repeating units and the S-layer polypeptide. For the determination of chain-length variability in the S-layer glycan, the different glycopeptide pools were investigated by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry, revealing that the degree of polymerization of the S-layer glycan repeats varied between three and 10. All masses were assigned to multiples of the repeating units plus the peptide portion. This result implies that no core structure is present and thus supports the data from the NMR spectroscopy analyses. This is the first observation of a bacterial S-layer glycan without a core region connecting the carbohydrate moiety with the polypeptide portion.