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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Methylated glycans as conserved targets of animal and fungal innate defense.


PMID 24879441

Abstract

Effector proteins of innate immune systems recognize specific non-self epitopes. Tectonins are a family of β-propeller lectins conserved from bacteria to mammals that have been shown to bind bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We present experimental evidence that two Tectonins of fungal and animal origin have a specificity for O-methylated glycans. We show that Tectonin 2 of the mushroom Laccaria bicolor (Lb-Tec2) agglutinates Gram-negative bacteria and exerts toxicity toward the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, suggesting a role in fungal defense against bacteria and nematodes. Biochemical and genetic analysis of these interactions revealed that both bacterial agglutination and nematotoxicity of Lb-Tec2 depend on the recognition of methylated glycans, namely O-methylated mannose and fucose residues, as part of bacterial LPS and nematode cell-surface glycans. In addition, a C. elegans gene, termed samt-1, coding for a candidate membrane transport protein for the presumptive donor substrate of glycan methylation, S-adenosyl-methionine, from the cytoplasm to the Golgi was identified. Intriguingly, limulus lectin L6, a structurally related antibacterial protein of the Japanese horseshoe crab Tachypleus tridentatus, showed properties identical to the mushroom lectin. These results suggest that O-methylated glycans constitute a conserved target of the fungal and animal innate immune system. The broad phylogenetic distribution of O-methylated glycans increases the spectrum of potential antagonists recognized by Tectonins, rendering this conserved protein family a universal defense armor.