Fucosylated glycans critically regulate the physiological functions of proteins and cells. Alterations in levels of fucosylated glycans are associated with various diseases. For detection and functional modulation of fucosylated glycans, chemical biology approaches using fucose (Fuc) analogs are useful. However, little is known about how efficiently each unnatural Fuc analog is utilized by enzymes in the biosynthetic pathway of fucosylated glycans. We show here that three clickable Fuc analogs with similar but distinct structures labeled cellular glycans with different efficiency and protein specificity. For instance, 6-alkynyl (Alk)-Fuc modified O-Fuc glycans much more efficiently than 7-Alk-Fuc. The level of GDP-6-Alk-Fuc produced in cells was also higher than that of GDP-7-Alk-Fuc. Comprehensive in vitro fucosyltransferase assays revealed that 7-Alk-Fuc is commonly tolerated by most fucosyltransferases. Surprisingly, both protein O-fucosyltransferases (POFUTs) could transfer all Fuc analogs in vitro, likely because POFUT structures have a larger space around their Fuc binding sites. These findings demonstrate that labeling and detection of fucosylated glycans with Fuc analogs depend on multiple cellular steps, including conversion to GDP form, transport into the ER or Golgi, and utilization by each fucosyltransferase, providing insights into design of novel sugar analogs for specific detection of target glycans or inhibition of their functions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Computer Science Applications
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry