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Vol.4 No.6 ,2005, Pages:

Eukaryotic UDP-Galactopyranose Mutase (GLF Gene) in Microbial and Metazoal Pathogens

Stephen M. Beverley,1* Katherine L. Owens,1 Melissa Showalter,1 Cara L. Griffith,1 Tamara L. Doering,1 Victoria C. Jones,2 and Michael R. McNeil2

Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University Medical School, 660 S. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110.


Galactofuranose (Galf) is a novel sugar absent in mammals but present in a variety of pathogenic microbes, often within glycoconjugates that play critical roles in cell surface formation and the infectious cycle. In prokaryotes, Galf is synthesized as the nucleotide sugar UDP-Galf by UDP-galactopyranose mutase (UGM) (gene GLF). Here we used a combinatorial bioinformatics screen to identify a family of candidate eukaryotic GLFs that had previously escaped detection. GLFs from three pathogens, two protozoa (Leishmania major and Trypanosoma cruzi) and one fungus (Cryptococcus neoformans), had UGM activity when expressed in Escherichia coli and assayed in vivo and/or in vitro. Eukaryotic GLFs are closely related to each other but distantly related to prokaryotic GLFs, showing limited conservation of core residues around the substrate-binding site and flavin adenine dinucleotide binding domain. Several eukaryotes not previously investigated for Galf synthesis also showed strong GLF homologs with conservation of key residues. These included other fungi, the alga Chlamydomonas and the algal phleovirus Feldmannia irregularis, parasitic nematodes (Brugia, Onchocerca, and Strongyloides) and Caenorhabditis elegans, and the urochordates Halocynthia and Cionia. The C. elegans open reading frame was shown to encode UGM activity. The GLF phylogenetic distribution suggests that Galf synthesis may occur more broadly in eukaryotes than previously supposed. Overall, GLF/Galf synthesis in eukaryotes appears to occur with a disjunct distribution and often in pathogenic species, similar to what is seen in prokaryotes. Thus, UGM inhibition may provide an attractive drug target in those eukaryotes where Galf plays critical roles in cellular viability and virulence.

Keywords:Eukaryotic,Galactopyranose Mutase,GLF,Metazoal Pathogens,UDP,Cryptococcus neoformans, pathogens.

Corresponding author: Phone:(314) 747-2630 Fax: (314) 747- 2634.

E-mail: beverley@borcim.wustl.edu.



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