Polysialic acids are bioactive carbohydrates found in eukaryotes and some bacterial pathogens. The bacterial polysialyltransferases (PSTs), which catalyze the synthesis of polysialic acid capsules, have previously been identified in select strains of Escherichia coli and Neisseria meningitidis and are classified in the Carbohydrate-Active enZYmes Database as glycosyltransferase family GT-38. In this study using DNA sequence analysis and functional characterization we have identified a novel polysialyltransferase from the bovine/ovine pathogen Mannheimia haemolytica A2 (PSTMh). The enzyme was expressed in recombinant form as a soluble maltose-binding-protein fusion in parallel with the related PSTs from E. coli K1 and N. meningitidis group B in order to perform a side-by-side comparison. Biochemical properties including solubility, acceptor preference, reaction pH optima, thermostability, kinetics, and product chain length for the enzymes were compared using a synthetic fluorescent acceptor molecule. PSTMh exhibited biochemical properties that make it an attractive candidate for chemi-enzymatic synthesis applications of polysialic acid. The activity of PSTMh was examined on a model glycoprotein and the surface of a neuroprogenitor cell line where the results supported its development for use in applications to therapeutic protein modification and cell surface glycan remodelling to enable cell migration at implantation sites to promote wound healing. The three PSTs examined here demonstrated different properties that would each be useful to therapeutic applications.
Lindhout T, Bainbridge CR, Costain WJ, Gilbert M, Wakarchuk WW (2013) Biochemical Characterization of a Polysialyltransferase from Mannheimia haemolytica A2 and Comparison to Other Bacterial Polysialyltransferases. PLoS ONE 8(7): e69888.