Single-subunit oligosaccharyltransferases of Trypanosoma brucei display different and predictable peptide acceptor specificities

Anders Jinnelov, Liaqat Ali, Michele Tinti, Maria Lucia S. Guther, Michael A. J. Ferguson (Lead / Corresponding author)

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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Trypanosoma brucei causes African trypanosomiasis and contains three full-length oligosaccharyltransferase (OST) genes; two of which, TbSTT3A and TbSTT3B, are expressed in the bloodstream form of the parasite. These OSTs have different peptide acceptor and lipid-linked oligosaccharide donor specificities and trypanosomes do not follow many of the canonical rules developed for other eukaryotic N-glycosylation pathways, raising questions as to the basic architecture and detailed function of trypanosome OSTs. Here, we show by blue-native gel electrophoresis and stable isotope labelling in cell culture proteomics that the TbSTT3A and TbSTT3B proteins associate with each other in large complexes that contain no other detectable protein subunits. We probed the peptide acceptor specificities of the OSTs in vivo using a transgenic glycoprotein reporter system and performed glycoproteomics on endogenous parasite glycoproteins using sequential endoglycosidase-H and peptide-N-glycosidase-F digestions. This allowed us to assess the relative occupancies of numerous N-glycosylation sites by endoglycosidase-H resistant N-glycans originating from Man5GlcNAc2-PP-dolichol transferred by TbSTT3A, and endoglycosidase-H sensitive N-glycans originating from Man9GlcNAc2-PP-dolichol transferred by TbSTT3B. Using machine learning we assessed the features that best define TbSTT3A and TbSTT3B substrates in vivo and built an algorithm to predict the types of N-glycan most likely to predominate at all the putative N-glycosylation sites in the parasite proteome. Lastly, molecular modelling was used to suggest why TbSTT3A has a distinct preference for sequons containing and/or flanked by acidic amino acid residues. Together, these studies provide insights into how a highly divergent eukaryote has re-wired protein N-glycosylation to provide protein sequence-specific N-glycan modifications. Data are available via ProteomeXchange with identifiers PXD007236, PXD007267 and PXD007268.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20328-20341
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number49
Early online date19 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2017


  • glycoprotein biosynthesis
  • N-linked glycosylation
  • oligosaccharyltransferase
  • parasitology
  • Trypanosoma brucei
  • STT3
  • glycoproteomics
  • machine learning


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