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An Easy Colorimetric Assay for Glycosyltransferases

Rui Shen, Shuai Wang, Xiaofeng Ma, Junyang Xian, Jing Li, Lianwen Zhang*, and Peng Wang*

College of Pharmacy, Nankai University, Weijin Road 94, Tianjin 300071, P. R. China; fax: +86(022)2350-7880; E-mail: lianwen@nankai.edu.cn; pwang@nankai.edu.cn; shenr05@126.com

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received March 31, 2010; Revision received May 27, 2010
Glycosyltransferases are involved in biosynthesis of both protein-bound and non-bound glycans that have multiple and important biological functions in all species. A variety of methods for assaying glycosyltransferase activity have been developed driven by the specific interests and type of information required by researchers. In this work, a novel colorimetric assay for the glycosyltransferase-catalyzed reaction was established. Compared with measuring the newly formed product, which might not exhibit visible absorption, the unreacted acceptor could be readily detected by measuring the visible absorption of the hydrolysis product. In the assay, 4-nitrophenyl-β-D-glycoside (glycosyl-β-pNP) is used as the glycosyl acceptor, which can be hydrolyzed by a special exoglycosidase to release the p-nitrophenol before glycosylation reactions. Absorbance change of the p-nitrophenolate corresponds to unreacted glycosyl acceptor that accompanied the glycosyl transfer. The assay is demonstrated to be useful in the initial characterization of recombinant glycosyltransferases for their kinetic parameters, optimal metal cofactor, and pH value. It provides a simple, sensitive, and quantitative method for assessing glycosyltransferase activity and is thus expected to have broad applications including automated high-throughput screening.
KEY WORDS: glycosyltransferase, colorimetric assay, high-throughput screening

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297910070187