Structural basis for substrate specificity of mammalian neuraminidases

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© 2014 Smutova et al. The removal of sialic acid (Sia) residues from glycoconjugates in vertebrates is mediated by a family of neuraminidases (sialidases) consisting of Neu1, Neu2, Neu3 and Neu4 enzymes. The enzymes play distinct physiological roles, but their ability to discriminate between the types of linkages connecting Sia and adjacent residues and between the identity and arrangement of the underlying sugars has never been systematically studied. Here we analyzed the specificity of neuraminidases by studying the kinetics of hydrolysis of BODIPY-labeled substrates containing common mammalian sialylated oligosaccharides: 3′Sia-LacNAc, 3′SiaLac, SiaLex, SiaLea, SiaLec, 6′SiaLac, and 6′SiaLacNAc. We found significant differences in substrate specificity of the enzymes towards the substrates containing α2,6-linked Sia, which were readily cleaved by Neu3 and Neu1 but not by Neu4 and Neu2. The presence of a branching 2-Fuc inhibited Neu2 and Neu4, but had almost no effect on Neu1 or Neu3. The nature of the sugar residue at the reducing end, either glucose (Glc) or N-acetyl- D-glucosamine (GlcNAc) had only a minor effect on all neuraminidases, whereas core structure (1,3 or 1,4 bond between Dgalactose (Gal) and GlcNAc) was found to be important for Neu4 strongly preferring β3 (core 1) to β4 (core 2) isomer. Neu3 and Neu4 were in general more active than Neu1 and Neu2, likely due to their preference for hydrophobic substrates. Neu2 and Neu3 were examined by molecular dynamics to identify favorable substrate orientations in the binding sites and interpret the differences in their specificities. Finally, using knockout mouse models, we confirmed that the substrate specificities observed in vitro were recapitulated in enzymes found in mouse brain tissues. Our data for the first time provide evidence for the characteristic substrate preferences of neuraminidases and their ability to discriminate between distinct sialoside targets.

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