O-glycosylation of secreted and membrane-bound proteins is an important post-translational modification that affects recognition of cell surface receptors, protein folding, and stability. However, despite the importance of O-linked glycans, their biological functions have not yet been fully elucidated and the synthetic pathway of O-glycosylation has not been investigated in detail, especially in the silkworm. In this study, we aimed to investigate O-glycosylation in silkworms by analyzing the overall structural profiles of mucin-type O-glycans using LC–MS. We found GalNAc or GlcNAc monosaccharide and core 1 disaccharide (Galβ1-3-GalNAcα1-Ser/Thr) were major components of the O-glycan attached to secreted proteins produced in silkworms. Furthermore, we characterized the 1 b1,3-galactosyltransferase (T-synthase) required for synthesis of the core 1 structure, common to many animals. Five transcriptional variants and four protein isoforms were identified in silkworms, and the biological functions of these isoforms were investigated. We found that BmT-synthase isoforms 1 and 2 were localized in the Golgi apparatus in cultured BmN4 cells and functioned both in cultured cells and silkworms. Additionally, a specific functional domain of T-synthase, called the stem domain, was found to be essential for activity and is presumed to be needed for dimer formation and galactosyltransferase activity. Altogether, our results elucidated the O-glycan profile and function of T-synthase in the silkworm. Our findings allow the practical comprehension of O-glycosylation required for employing silkworms as a productive expression system.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Insect Science