2-acylamido analogues of N-acetylglucosamine prime formation of chitin oligosaccharides by yeast chitin synthase 2 [Enzymology]

March 11th, 2014 by Gyore, J., Parameswar, A. R., Hebbard, C. F. F., Oh, Y., Bi, E., Demchenko, A. V., Price, N. P., Orlean, P.

Chitin, a homopolymer of β1,4-linked N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) residues, is a key component of the cell walls of fungi and the exoskeletons of arthropods. Chitin synthases (CSs) transfer GlcNAc from UDP-GlcNAc to pre-existing chitin chains in reactions that are typically stimulated by free GlcNAc. The effect of GlcNAc was probed by using a yeast strain expressing a single chitin synthase, Chs2, by examining formation of chitin oligosaccharides (COs) and insoluble chitin, and by replacing GlcNAc with 2-acylamido analogues of GlcNAc. Synthesis of COs was strongly dependent on inclusion of GlcNAc in CS incubations, and N,N′-diacetylchitobiose (GlcNAc2) was the major reaction product. Formation of both COs and insoluble chitin was also stimulated by GlcNAc2 and by N-propanoyl-, N-butanoyl-, and N-glycolylglucosamine. MALDI analyses of the COs made in the presence of 2-acylamido analogues of GlcNAc showed they contained a single GlcNAc analogue, and one or more additional GlcNAc residues. These results indicate that Chs2 can use certain 2-acylamido analogues of GlcNAc, and likely free GlcNAc and GlcNAc2 as well, as GlcNAc acceptors in a UDP-GlcNAc-dependent glycosyltransfer reaction. Further, formation of modified disaccharides indicates that CSs can transfer single GlcNAc residues.