A proposed pathway from D-glucose to D-arabinose in eukaryotes

Elda Iljazi, Rupa Nagar, Sabine Kuettel, Kieron Lucas, Arthur Crossman, Marie-Ange Badet-Denisot, Ronald W. Woodard, Michael A. J. Ferguson (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In eukaryotes, the D-enantiomer of arabinose (D-Ara) is an intermediate in the biosynthesis of D-erythroascorbate in yeast and fungi and in the biosynthesis of the nucleotide sugar GDP-α-D-arabinopyranose (GDP-D-Arap) and complex α-D-Arap containing surface glycoconjugates in certain trypanosomatid parasites. Whereas the biosynthesis of D-Ara in prokaryotes is well understood, the route from D-glucose (D-Glc) to D-Ara in eukaryotes is unknown. In this paper, we study the conversion of D-Glc to D-Ara in the trypanosomatid Crithidia fasciculata using positionally labelled [13C]-D-Glc and [13C]-D-ribose ([13C]-D-Rib) precursors and a novel derivatisation and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry procedure applied to a terminal metabolite, lipoarabinogalactan. These data implicate the both arms of pentose phosphate pathway and a likely role for D-ribulose-5-phosphate (D-Ru-5P) isomerisation to D-Ara-5P. We tested all C. fasciculata putative sugar and polyol phosphate isomerase genes for their ability to complement a D-Ara-5P isomerase-deficient mutant of Escherichia coli and found that one, the glutamine fructose-6-phosphate aminotransferase (GFAT) of glucosamine biosynthesis, was able to rescue the E. coli mutant. We also found that GFAT genes of other trypanosomatid parasites, and those of yeast and human origin, could complement the E. coli mutant. Finally, we demonstrated biochemically that recombinant human GFAT can isomerise D-Ru-5P to D-Ara5P. From these data, we postulate a general eukaryotic pathway from D-Glc to D-Ara and discuss its possible significance. With respect to C. fasciculata, we propose that D-Ara is used not only for the synthesis of GDP-D-Arap and complex surface glycoconjugates but also in the synthesis of D-erythroascorbate.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107500
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Early online date27 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jun 2024


  • Crithidia fasciculata
  • glucose metabolism
  • pentose phosphate pathway
  • D-arabinose
  • D-erythroascorbate


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