Determination of the glycosaminoglycan-protein linkage region oligosaccharide structures of proteoglycans from Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans

Shuhei Yamada, Yukihiko Okada, Momoyo Ueno, Satomi Iwata, S. S. Deepa, Shuji Nishimura, Masaki Fujita, Irma Van Die, Yoshio Hirabayashi, Kazuyuki Sugahara

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58 Scopus citations


Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster are relevant models for studying the roles of glycosaminoglycans (GAG) during the development of multicellular organisms. The genome projects of these organisms have revealed the existence of multiple genes related to GAG-synthesizing enzymes. Although the putative genes encoding the enzymes that synthesize the GAG-protein linkage region have also been identified, there is no direct evidence that the GAG chains bind covalently to core proteins. This study aimed to clarify whether GAG chains in these organisms are linked to core proteins through the conventional linkage region tetrasaccharide sequence found in vertebrates and whether modifications by phosphorylation and sulfation reported forvertebrates are present also in invertebrates. The linkage region oligosaccharides were isolated from C. elegans chondroitin in addition to D. melanogaster heparan and chondroitin sulfate after digestion with the respective bacterial eliminases and were then derivatized with a fluorophore 2-aminobenzamide. Their structures were characterized by gel filtration and anion-exchange high performance liquid chromatography in conjunction with enzymatic digestion and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight spectrometry, which demonstrated a uniform linkage tetrasaccharide structure of -GlcUA-Gal-Gal-Xyl- or -GlcUA-Gal-Gal-Xyl(2-O-phosphate)- for C. elegans chondroitin and D. melanogaster CS, respectively. In contrast, the unmodified and phosphorylated counterparts were demonstrated in heparan sulfate of adult flies at a molar ratio of 73:27, and in that of the immortalized D. melanogaster S2 cell line at a molar ratio of 7:93, which suggests that the linkage region in the fruit fly first becomes phosphorylated uniformly on the Xyl residue and then dephosphorylated. It has been established here that GAG chains in both C. elegans and D. melanogaster are synthesized on the core protein through the ubiquitous linkage region tetrasaccharide sequence, suggesting that indispensable functions of the linkage region in the GAG synthesis have been well conserved during evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31877-31886
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number35
StatePublished - Aug 30 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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