Atomic and Specificity Details of Mucin 1 O-Glycosylation Process by Multiple Polypeptide GalNAc-Transferase Isoforms Unveiled by NMR and Molecular Modeling

Helena Coelho, Matilde De Las Rivas, Ana S. Grosso, Ana Diniz, Cátia O. Soares, Rodrigo A. Francisco, Jorge S. Dias, Ismael Compañon, Lingbo Sun, Yoshiki Narimatsu, Sergey Y. Vakhrushev, Henrik Clausen, Eurico J. Cabrita, Jesús Jiménez-barbero, Francisco Corzana, Ramon Hurtado-guerrero, Filipa Marcelo

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The large family of polypeptide GalNAc-transferases (GalNAc-Ts) controls with precision how GalNAc O-glycans are added in the tandem repeat regions of mucins (e.g., MUC1). However, the structural features behind the creation of well-defined and clustered patterns of O-glycans in mucins are poorly understood. In this context, herein, we disclose the full process of MUC1 O-glycosylation by GalNAc-T2/T3/T4 isoforms by NMR spectroscopy assisted by molecular modeling protocols. By using MUC1, with four tandem repeat domains as a substrate, we confirmed the glycosylation preferences of different GalNAc-Ts isoforms and highlighted the importance of the lectin domain in the glycosylation site selection after the addition of the first GalNAc residue. In a glycosylated substrate, with yet multiple acceptor sites, the lectin domain contributes to orientate acceptor sites to the catalytic domain. Our experiments suggest that during this process, neighboring tandem repeats are critical for further glycosylation of acceptor sites by GalNAc-T2/T4 in a lectin-assisted manner. Our studies also show local conformational changes in the peptide backbone during incorporation of GalNAc residues, which might explain GalNAc-T2/T3/T4 fine specificities toward the MUC1 substrate. Interestingly, we postulate that a specific salt-bridge and the inverse γ-turn conformation of the PDTRP sequence in MUC1 are the main structural motifs behind the GalNAc-T4 specificity toward this region. In addition, in-cell analysis shows that the GalNAc-T4 isoform is the only isoform glycosylating the Thr of the immunogenic epitope PDTRP in vivo, which highlights the relevance of GalNAc-T4 in the glycosylation of this epitope. Finally, the NMR methodology established herein can be extended to other glycosyltransferases, such as C1GalT1 and ST6GalNAc-I, to determine the specificity toward complex mucin acceptor substrates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-645
Number of pages15
JournalJACS Au
Issue number3
Early online date24 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2022


  • O-GalNAc glycosylation
  • GalNAc-Ts
  • mucin-1
  • NMR
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Cell analysis


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