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UDP-glucose:glycoprotein glucosyltransferase (UGGT) is the only known glycoprotein folding quality control checkpoint in the eukaryotic glycoprotein secretory pathway. When the enzyme detects a misfolded glycoprotein in the Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER), it dispatches it for ER retention by re-glucosylating it on one of its N-linked glycans. Recent crystal structures of a fungal UGGT have suggested the enzyme is conformationally mobile. Here, a negative stain electron microscopy reconstruction of UGGT in complex with a monoclonal antibody confirms that the misfold-sensing N-terminal portion of UGGT and its C-terminal catalytic domain are tightly associated. Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations capture UGGT in so far unobserved conformational states, giving new insights into the molecule’s flexibility. Principal component analysis of the MD trajectories affords a description of UGGT’s overall inter-domain motions, highlighting three types of inter-domain movements: bending, twisting and clamping. These inter-domain motions modify the accessible surface area of the enzyme’s central saddle, likely enabling the protein to recognize and re-glucosylate substrates of different sizes and shapes, and/or re-glucosylate N-linked glycans situated at variable distances from the site of misfold. We propose to name “Parodi limit” the maximum distance between a site of misfolding on a UGGT glycoprotein substrate and an N-linked glycan that monomeric UGGT can re-glucosylate on the same glycoprotein. MD simulations estimate the Parodi limit to be around 60-70 Å. Re-glucosylation assays using UGGT deletion mutants suggest that the TRXL2 domain is necessary for activity against urea-misfolded bovine thyroglobulin. Taken together, our findings support a “one-size-fits-all adjustable spanner” substrate recognition model, with a crucial role for the TRXL2 domain in the recruitment of misfolded substrates to the enzyme’s active site.


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Publication Date



University of Buenos Aires (UBA) - Departamento de Química Biológica, University of Oxford - Oxford Glycobiology Institute, University of Leicester, CNR


UGGT, glycoprotein folding, negative stain EM, Molecular Dynamics, Parodi limit