The subcellular distribution of terminal N-acetylglucosamine moieties. Localization of a novel protein-saccharidie linkage, O-linked GlcNAc

G. D. Holt, Gerald Warren Hart

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327 Scopus citations


Previously our laboratory reported the discovery of a novel protein-saccharide linkage in which single N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) residues are attached in O-linkages to protein (Torres, C.R., and Hart, G.W. (1984) J. Biol. Chem. 259, 3308-3317). This linkage was first found on plasma membrane proteins of living cells by galactosylation with bovine milk galactosyltransferase. Here were report the distribution of O-linked GlcNAc in highly enriched rat liver subcellular organelles. Nonidet P-40 solubilized organelles were labeled by galactosyltransferase with UDP-[3H]galactose, and the amount of radiolabel occurring on GlcNAc residues in O-linkages was assessed by its sensitivity to β-elimination and by its resistance to deglycosylation with endo-β-N-acetylglucosaminidase F. The presence of galactose-labeled O-linked GlcNAc residues was confirmed by high voltage paper electrophoresis. There is a 17-fold range per mg of protein in the amount of galactosylatable terminal GlcNAc residues found in the various organelles, as well as a wide range in the organelles' apparent content of O-linked GlcNAc residues. Nuclei and the soluble fraction of rat liver cells are particularly enriched with proteins bearing O-linked GlcNAc residues, although these residues are demonstrable in virtually all organelles tested. Furthermore, examination by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis reveals that many different organelle-specific proteins are glycosylated with O-linked GlcNAc residues. Because of the wide occurrence of this unique linkage, these data suggest that glycosylation with O-linked GlcNAc residues is not an exclusive marker for a particular organelle. In addition, we have surveyed the organelles for their content of glycoproteins bearing GlcNAc-terminated N-linked oligosaccharides. Our data demonstrate that there are significant amounts of these oligosaccharides in rough and stripped microsomes, nuclei, and nuclear envelopes. In light of evidence that terminal GlcNAc transferases are localized to the Golgi complex, these data suggest that there are glycoproteins which enter into the Golgi for processing and then are transported back into the rough endoplasmic reticulum, and possibly the nucleus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8049-8057
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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