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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

High abundance of Serine/Threonine-rich regions predicted to be hyper-O-glycosylated in the secretory proteins coded by eight fungal genomes

Mario González, Nélida Brito and Celedonio González*

Author Affiliations

Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Universidad de La Laguna, La Laguna (Tenerife), E-38206, Spain

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:213  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-213

Published: 20 September 2012

Abstract

Background

O-glycosylation of secretory proteins has been found to be an important factor in fungal biology and virulence. It consists in the addition of short glycosidic chains to Ser or Thr residues in the protein backbone via O-glycosidic bonds. Secretory proteins in fungi frequently display Ser/Thr rich regions that could be sites of extensive O-glycosylation. We have analyzed in silico the complete sets of putatively secretory proteins coded by eight fungal genomes (Botrytis cinerea, Magnaporthe grisea, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, Ustilago maydis, Aspergillus nidulans, Neurospora crassa, Trichoderma reesei, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae) in search of Ser/Thr-rich regions as well as regions predicted to be highly O-glycosylated by NetOGlyc (http://www.cbs.dtu.dk webcite).

Results

By comparison with experimental data, NetOGlyc was found to overestimate the number of O-glycosylation sites in fungi by a factor of 1.5, but to be quite reliable in the prediction of highly O-glycosylated regions. About half of secretory proteins have at least one Ser/Thr-rich region, with a Ser/Thr content of at least 40% over an average length of 40 amino acids. Most secretory proteins in filamentous fungi were predicted to be O-glycosylated, sometimes in dozens or even hundreds of sites. Residues predicted to be O-glycosylated have a tendency to be grouped together forming hyper-O-glycosylated regions of varying length.

Conclusions

About one fourth of secretory fungal proteins were predicted to have at least one hyper-O-glycosylated region, which consists of 45 amino acids on average and displays at least one O-glycosylated Ser or Thr every four residues. These putative highly O-glycosylated regions can be found anywhere along the proteins but have a slight tendency to be at either one of the two ends.