Protein N-glycosylation in Archaea: defining Haloferax volcanii genes involved in S-layer glycoprotein glycosylation


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In this study, characterization of the N-glycosylation process in the haloarchaea Haloferax volcanii was undertaken. Initially, putative Hfx. volcanii homologues of genes involved in eukaryal or bacterial N-glycosylation were identified by bioinformatics. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) confirmed that the proposed N-glycosylation genes are transcribed, indicative of true proteins being encoded. Where families of related gene sequences were detected, differential transcription of family members under a variety of physiological and environmental conditions was shown. Gene deletions point to certain genes, like alg11, as being essential yet revealed that others, such as the two versions of alg5, are not. Deletion of alg5-A did, however, lead to slower growth and interfered with surface (S)-layer glycoprotein glycosylation, as detected by modified migration on SDS-PAGE and glycostaining approaches. As deletion of stt3, the only component of the oligosaccharide transferase complex detected in Archaea, did not affect cell viability, it appears that N-glycosylation is not essential in Hfx. volcanii. Deletion of stt3 did, nonetheless, hinder both cell growth and S-layer glycoprotein glycosylation. Thus, with genes putatively involved in Hfx. volcanii protein glycosylation identified and the ability to address the roles played by the encoded polypeptides in modifying a reporter glycoprotein, the steps of the archaeal N-glycosylation pathway can be defined.