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Open Access Discovery notes

Novel eukaryotic enzymes modifying cell-surface biopolymers

Vivek Anantharaman and L Aravind*

Author Affiliations

National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20894, USA

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Biology Direct 2010, 5:1  doi:10.1186/1745-6150-5-1

Published: 7 January 2010

Abstract

Background

Eukaryotic extracellular matrices such as proteoglycans, sclerotinized structures, mucus, external tests, capsules, cell walls and waxes contain highly modified proteins, glycans and other composite biopolymers. Using comparative genomics and sequence profile analysis we identify several novel enzymes that could be potentially involved in the modification of cell-surface glycans or glycoproteins.

Results

Using sequence analysis and conservation we define the acyltransferase domain prototyped by the fungal Cas1p proteins, identify its active site residues and unify them to the superfamily of classical 10TM acyltransferases (e.g. oatA). We also identify a novel family of esterases (prototyped by the previously uncharacterized N-terminal domain of Cas1p) that have a similar fold as the SGNH/GDSL esterases but differ from them in their conservation pattern.

Conclusions

We posit that the combined action of the acyltransferase and esterase domain plays an important role in controlling the acylation levels of glycans and thereby regulates their physico-chemical properties such as hygroscopicity, resistance to enzymatic hydrolysis and physical strength. We present evidence that the action of these novel enzymes on glycans might play an important role in host-pathogen interaction of plants, fungi and metazoans. We present evidence that in plants (e.g. PMR5 and ESK1) the regulation of carbohydrate acylation by these acylesterases might also play an important role in regulation of transpiration and stress resistance. We also identify a subfamily of these esterases in metazoans (e.g. C7orf58), which are fused to an ATP-grasp amino acid ligase domain that is predicted to catalyze, in certain animals, modification of cell surface polymers by amino acid or peptides.

Reviewers

This article was reviewed by Gaspar Jekely and Frank Eisenhaber