Publications

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O-GlcNAc and neurodegeneration: biochemical mechanisms and potential roles in Alzheimer’s disease and beyond

Alzheimer disease (AD) is a growing problem for aging populations worldwide. Despite significant efforts, no therapeutics are available that stop or slow progression of AD, which has driven interest in the basic causes of AD and the search for new therapeutic strategies. Longitudinal studies have clarified that defects in glucose metabolism occur in patients exhibiting [...]

April 24th, 2014|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

O-GlcNAc modification of tau directly inhibits its aggregation without perturbing the conformational properties of tau monomers

The aggregation of the microtubule-associated protein tau into paired helical filaments to form neurofibrillary tangles constitutes one of the pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. Tau is post-translationally modified by the addition of N-acetyl-D-glucosamine O-linked to several serine and threonine residues (O-GlcNAc). Previously, increased O-GlcNAcylation of tau has been shown to block the accumulation of tau [...]

January 18th, 2014|Tags: , , , |

Increasing brain protein O-GlcNAcylation mitigates breathing defects and mortality of Tau.P301L mice

The microtubule associated protein tau causes primary and secondary tauopathies by unknown molecular mechanisms. Post-translational O-GlcNAc-ylation of brain proteins was demonstrated here to be beneficial for Tau.P301L mice by pharmacological inhibition of O-GlcNAc-ase. Chronic treatment of ageing Tau.P301L mice mitigated their loss in body-weight and improved their motor deficits, while the survival was 3-fold higher [...]

December 23rd, 2013|Tags: , , , , |

Increased O-GlcNAcylation reduces pathological tau without affecting its normal phosphorylation in a mouse model of tauopathy

Neurofibrillary tangles (NFT), mainly consisting of fibrillar aggregates of hyperphosphorylated tau, are a defining pathological feature of Alzheimer's Disease and other tauopathies. Progressive accumulation of tau into NFT is considered to be a toxic cellular event causing neurodegeneration. Tau is subject to O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) modification and O-GlcNAcylation of tau has been suggested to regulate [...]

December 8th, 2013|Tags: , , , , , |

O-GlcNAc modification prevents peptide-dependent acceleration of α-synuclein aggregation

Sweet relief: the Parkinson's disease-associated protein α-synuclein is post-translationally modified by N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc), but the biochemical consequences are unknown. Here we show that an O-GlcNAc-modified peptide does not participate in α-synuclein aggregation, thus suggesting that O-GlcNAc might directly inhibit aggregation in cells. Source: Marotta, N.P. et al. Chembiochem 13(18), 2665-2670 (2012).

November 9th, 2012|Tags: , , |

Structural snapshots of the reaction coordinate for O-GlcNAc transferase

Visualization of the reaction coordinate undertaken by glycosyltransferases has remained elusive but is critical for understanding this important class of enzyme. Using substrates and substrate mimics, we describe structural snapshots of all species along the kinetic pathway for human O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine transferase (O-GlcNAc transferase), an intracellular enzyme that catalyzes installation of a dynamic post-translational modification. [...]

October 28th, 2012|Tags: , |

O-linked β-N-acetylglucosaminidase inhibitor attenuates β-amyloid plaque and rescues memory impairment

Deposition of β-amyloid (Aβ) as senile plaques and disrupted glucose metabolism are two main characteristics of Alzheimer's disease (AD). It is unknown, however, how these two processes are related in AD. Here we examined the relationship between O-GlcNAcylation, which is a glucose level-dependent post-translational modification that adds O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) to proteins, and Aβ production [...]

April 11th, 2012|Tags: , , , , |

Increasing O-GlcNAc slows neurodegeneration and stabilizes tau against aggregation

Oligomerization of tau is a key process contributing to the progressive death of neurons in Alzheimer’s disease. Tau is modified by O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc), and O-GlcNAc can influence tau phosphorylation in certain cases. We therefore speculated that increasing tau O-GlcNAc could be a strategy to hinder pathological tau-induced neurodegeneration. Here we found that treatment of [...]

February 26th, 2012|Tags: , , , , , |

Insights into O-linked N-acetylglucosamine ((0-9)O-GlcNAc) processing and dynamics through kinetic analysis of O-GlcNAc transferase and O-GlcNAcase activity on protein substrates

Cellular O-linked N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) levels are modulated by two enzymes: uridine diphosphate-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine:polypeptidyltransferase (OGT) and O-GlcNAcase (OGA). To quantitatively address the activity of these enzymes on protein substrates, we generated five structurally diverse proteins in both unmodified and O-GlcNAc-modified states. We found a remarkably invariant upper limit for k(cat)/K(m) values for human OGA (hOGA)-catalyzed processing of [...]

February 6th, 2012|Tags: , , |

Hijacking a biosynthetic pathway yields a glycosyltransferase inhibitor within cells

Glycosyltransferases are ubiquitous enzymes that catalyze the assembly of glycoconjugates throughout all kingdoms of nature. A long-standing problem is the rational design of probes that can be used to manipulate glycosyltransferase activity in cells and tissues. Here we describe the rational design and synthesis of a nucleotide sugar analog (Ac-5SGlcNAc) that inhibits, with high potency [...]

January 23rd, 2011|Tags: , , , |