Proteomic identification of the UDP-GlcNAc: PI α1–6 GlcNAc-transferase subunits of the glycosylphosphatidylinositol biosynthetic pathway of Trypanosoma brucei

Z Ji, M Tinti, MAJ Ferguson

PLos One Volume 16, Issue 3 March, March 2021, Article number e0244699 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0244699


The first step of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor biosynthesis in all eukaryotes is the addition of N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) to phosphatidylinositol (PI) which is catalysed by a UDP-GlcNAc: PI α1–6 GlcNAc-transferase, also known as GPI GnT. This enzyme has been shown to be a complex of seven subunits in mammalian cells and a similar complex of six homologous subunits has been postulated in yeast. Homologs of these mammalian and yeast subunits were identified in the Trypanosoma brucei predicted protein database. The putative catalytic subunit of the T. brucei complex, TbGPI3, was epitope tagged with three consecutive c-Myc sequences at its C-terminus. Immunoprecipitation of TbGPI3-3Myc followed by native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and anti-Myc Western blot showed that it is present in a ~240 kDa complex. Label-free quantitative proteomics were performed to compare anti-Myc pull-downs from lysates of TbGPI-3Myc expressing and wild type cell lines. TbGPI3-3Myc was the most highly enriched protein in the TbGPI3-3Myc lysate pull-down and the expected partner proteins TbGPI15, TbGPI19, TbGPI2, TbGPI1 and TbERI1 were also identified with significant enrichment. Our proteomics data also suggest that an Arv1-like protein (TbArv1) is a subunit of the T. brucei complex. Yeast and mammalian Arv1 have been previously implicated in GPI biosynthesis, but here we present the first experimental evidence for physical association of Arv1 with GPI biosynthetic machinery. A putative E2-ligase has also been tentatively identified as part of the T. brucei UDP-GlcNAc: PI α1–6 GlcNAc-transferase complex.

© 2021 Ji et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.