A Single Arabinan Chain Is Attached to the Phosphatidylinositol Mannosyl Core of the Major Immunomodulatory Mycobacterial Cell Envelope Glycoconjugate, Lipoarabinomannan [Microbiology]

September 17th, 2014 by Kaur, D., Angala, S. K., Wu, S.-W., Khoo, K.-H., Chatterjee, D., Brennan, P. J., Jackson, M., McNeil, M. R.

Lipoarabinomannan (LAM) is composed of a phosphatidylinositol anchor followed by a mannan followed by an arabinan which may be capped with various motifs including oligosaccharides of mannose. A related polymer, lipomannan (LM), is composed of only the phosphatidylinositol and mannan core. Both the structure and the biosynthesis of LAM have been studied extensively. However, fundamental questions about the branching structure of LM and the number of arabinan chains on the mannan backbone in LAM remain. LM and LAM molecules produced by three different glycosyltransferase mutants of Mycobacterium smegmatis were used here to investigate these questions. Using an MSMEG_4241 mutant which lacks the α-(1,6)-mannosyltransferase used late in LM elongation, we showed that the reducing end region of the mannan which is attached to inositol has 5-7 unbranched α-6-linked-mannosyl residues followed by two or three α-6-linked mannosyl residues branched with single α-Manp residues at O-2. After these branched mannosyl residues, the α-6-linked mannan chain is terminated with an α-Manp at O-2 rather than O-6 of the penultimate residue. Analysis of the number of arabinans attached to the mannan core of LM in two other mutants (ΔembC and ΔMSMEG_4247) demonstrated exactly one arabinosyl substitution of the mannan core suggestive of the arabinosylation of a linear LM precursor with approximately 10-12 mannosyl residues followed by additional mannosylation of the core and arabinosylation of a single arabinosyl primer. Thus, these studies suggest that only a single arabinan chain attached near the middle of the mannan core is present in mature LAM, and allow for an updated working model of the biosynthetic pathway of LAM and LM.
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