The Carboxy Terminus of EmbC fromMycobacterium smegmatisMediates Chain Length Extension of the Arabinan in Lipoarabinomannan
Libin Shi, Stefan Berg, Arwen Lee, John S. Spencer, Jian Zhang, Varalakshmi Vissa, Michael R. McNeil, Kay-Hooi Khoo, Delphi Chatterjee
Journal of Biological Chemistry
D-Arabinofurans, attached to either a galactofuran or a lipomannan, are the primary constituents of mycobacterial cell wall, forming the unique arabinogalactan (AG) and lipoarabinomannan (LAM), respectively. Emerging data indicate that the arabinans of AG and LAM are distinguished by virtue of the additional presence of linear termini in LAM, which entails some unknown feature of the EmbC protein for proper synthesis. In common with the two paralogous EmbA and EmbB proteins functionally
... ed for the arabinosylation of AG, EmbC is predicted to carry 13 transmembrane spanning helices in an integral N-terminal domain followed by a hydrophilic extracytoplasmic C-terminal domain. To delineate the function of this C-terminal domain, the embC knock-out mutant of Mycobacterium smegmatis was complemented with plasmids expressing truncated embC genes. The expression level of serially truncated EmbC protein thus induced was examined by EmbC-specific peptide antibody, and their functional implications were inferred from ensuing detailed structural analysis of the truncated LAM variants synthesized. Apart from critically showing that the smaller arabinans are mostly devoid of the linear terminal motif, ␤-D-Araf(132)-␣-D-Araf(135)-␣-D-Araf(135)-␣-D-Araf, our studies clearly implicate the C-terminal domain of EmbC in the chain extension of LAM. For the first time a full range of arabinan chains as large as 18 -22 Araf residues and beyond could be released intact by the use of an endogenous endo-D-arabinanase from M. smegmatis, profiled, and sequenced directly by tandem mass spectrometry. In conjunction with NMR studies, our results unequivocally show that the LAM-specific linear termini are an extension on a well defined inner branched Ara-(18 -22) core. This hitherto unrecognized feature not only allows a significant revision of the structural model of LAM-arabinan since its first description a decade ago but also furnishes a probable molecular basis of selectivity in biosynthesis, as conferred by the EmbC protein.