Resolving the α-glycosidic linkage of arginine-rhamnosylated translation elongation factor P triggers generation of the first ArgRha specific antibody

Chem. Sci., 7, 6995–7001, DOI: 10.1039/c6sc02889f
Chem. Sci., online article

A previously discovered posttranslational modification strategy – arginine rhamnosylation – is essential for elongation factor P (EF-P) dependent rescue of polyproline stalled ribosomes in clinically relevant species such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Neisseria meningitidis. However, almost nothing is known about this new type of N-linked glycosylation. In the present study we used NMR spectroscopy to show for the first time that the α anomer of rhamnose is attached to Arg32 of EF-P, demonstrating that the corresponding glycosyltransferase EarP inverts the sugar of its cognate substrate dTDP-β-L-rhamnose. Based on this finding we describe the synthesis of an α-rhamnosylated arginine containing peptide antigen in order to raise the first anti-rhamnosyl arginine specific antibody (anti-ArgRha). Using ELISA and Western Blot analyses we demonstrated both its high affinity and specificity without any cross-reactivity to other N-glycosylated proteins. Having the anti-ArgRha at hand we were able to visualize endogenously produced rhamnosylated EF-P. Thus, we expect the antibody to be not only important to monitor EF-P rhamnosylation in diverse bacteria but also to identify further rhamnosyl arginine containing proteins. As EF-P rhamnosylation is essential for pathogenicity, our antibody might also be a powerful tool in drug discovery.

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