Bacterial glycomes are rich in prokaryote-specific or “rare” sugars that are absent in mammals. Like common sugars found across organisms, rare sugars are typically activated as nucleoside diphosphate sugars (NDP-sugars) by nucleotidyltransferases. In bacteria, the nucleotidyltransferase RmlA initiates the production of several rare NDP-sugars, which in turn regulate downstream glycan assembly through feedback inhibition of RmlA via binding to an allosteric site. In vitro, RmlA activates a range of common sugar-1-phosphates to produce NDP-sugars for biochemical and synthetic applications. However, our ability to probe bacterial glycan biosynthesis is hindered by limited chemoenzymatic access to rare NDP-sugars. We postulate that natural feedback mechanisms impact nucleotidyltransferase utility. Here, we use synthetic rare NDP-sugars to identify structural features required for regulation of RmlA from diverse bacterial species. We find that mutation of RmlA to eliminate allosteric binding of an abundant rare NDP-sugar facilitates the activation of noncanonical rare sugar-1-phosphate substrates, as products no longer affect turnover. In addition to promoting an understanding of nucleotidyltransferase regulation by metabolites, this work provides new routes to access rare sugar substrates for the study of important bacteria-specific glycan pathways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry