Warren W Wakarchuk

National Research Council Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (181)690.46 Total impact

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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The bacteria in the genus Cellulomonas are known for their ability to degrade plant cell wall biomass. Cellulomonas fimi ATCC 484 and C. flavigena ATCC 482 have been the subject of much research into secreted cellulases and hemicellulases. Recently the genome sequences of both C. fimi ATCC 484 and C. flavigena ATCC 482 were published, and a genome comparison has revealed their full spectrum of possible carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes). Using mass spectrometry, we have compared the proteins secreted by C. fimi and C. flavigena during growth on the soluble cellulose substrate, carboxymethylcellulose (CMC), as well as a soluble xylan fraction. Many known C. fimi CAZymes were detected, which validated our analysis, as were a number of new CAZymes and other proteins that, though identified in the genome, have not previously been observed in the secretome of either organism. Our data also shows that many of these are co-expressed on growth of either CMC or xylan. This analysis provides a new perspective on Cellulomonas enzymes and provides many new CAZyme targets for characterization.
    Preview · Article · Mar 2016 · PLoS ONE
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tay-Sachs or Sandhoff disease result from mutations in either the evolutionarily related HEXA or HEXB genes encoding respectively, the α- or β-subunits of β-hexosaminidase A (HexA). Of the three Hex isozymes, only HexA can interact with its cofactor, the GM2 activator protein (GM2AP), and hydrolyze GM2 ganglioside. A major impediment to establishing gene or enzyme replacement therapy based on HexA is the need to synthesize both subunits. Thus, we combined the critical features of both α- and β-subunits into a single hybrid µ-subunit that contains the α-subunit active site, the stable β-subunit interface and unique areas in each subunit needed to interact with GM2AP. To facilitate intracellular analysis and the purification of the µ-homodimer (HexM), CRISPR-based genome editing was used to disrupt the HEXA and HEXB genes in a Human Embryonic Kidney 293 cell line stably expressing the µ-subunit. In association with GM2AP, HexM was shown to hydrolyze a fluorescent GM2 ganglioside derivative both in cellulo and in vitro. Gene transfer studies in both Tay-Sachs and Sandhoff mouse models demonstrated that HexM expression reduced brain GM2 ganglioside levels.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2016
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    Full-text · Dataset · Nov 2015
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Legionaminic acids are analogs of sialic acid that occur in several bacteria. The most commonly occurring form is Leg5Ac7Ac, which differs from Neu5Ac only at the C7 (acetamido) and C9 (deoxy) positions. While these differences greatly reduce the susceptibility of Leg compounds to sialidases, several sialyltransferases have been identified that can use CMP-Leg5Ac7Ac as a donor (Watson et al. 2011). We report the successful modification with Leg5Ac7Ac of a glycolipid, GM1a, and two glycoproteins, interferon-α2b and α1-antitrypsin, by means of two mammalian sialyltransferases, namely porcine ST3Gal1 and human ST6Gal1. The Leg5Ac7Ac form of GD1a was not recognized by the myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG, Siglec-4), confirming the importance of the glycerol moiety in the interaction of sialo-glycans with Siglecs.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Glycoconjugate Journal
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sialyltransferases of the mammalian ST8Sia family catalyze oligo- and polysialylation of surface-localized glycoproteins and glycolipids through transfer of sialic acids from CMP-sialic acid to the nonreducing ends of sialic acid acceptors. The crystal structure of human ST8SiaIII at 1.85-Å resolution presented here is, to our knowledge, the first solved structure of a polysialyltransferase from any species, and it reveals a cluster of polysialyltransferase-specific structural motifs that collectively provide an extended electropositive surface groove for binding of oligo-polysialic acid chain products. The ternary complex of ST8SiaIII with a donor sugar analog and a sulfated glycan acceptor identified with a sialyltransferase glycan array provides insight into the residues involved in substrate binding, specificity and sialyl transfer.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Nature Structural & Molecular Biology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Legionaminic acids (Leg) are bacterial analogs of neuraminic acid, with the same stereochemistry but different substituents at C5, C7 and C9. Hence they may be incorporated into useful analogs of sialoglycoconjugates, and we previously reported two sialyltransferases that could utilize CMP-Leg5Ac7Ac for preparation of Leg glycoconjugates, which were resistant to sialidases (Watson et al. Glycobiology vol 21 pp. 99-108 (2011)). These were the porcine ST3Gal1 and Pasteurella multocida sialyltransferases. We now report two additional sialyltransferases with superior Leg-transferase properties to the previous two. These are a) a truncated form of a Photobacterium α2,6-sialyltransferase with an Ala-Met mutation in its active site, and b) an α2,3-sialyltransferase from Neisseria meningitidis MC58 with a higher transferase activity than the P. multocida enzyme, with either CMP-Neu5Ac or CMP-Leg5Ac7Ac as the donor. These enzymes will enable the production of useful Leg5Ac7Ac glycoconjugate derivatives with either α2,6 or α2,3 linkages and unique biological properties. © Crown copyright 2015.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Glycobiology
  • Warren Wakarchuk · Lyann Sim · Ching-Ching Yu · David Kwan · Stephen Withers
    No preview · Conference Paper · Nov 2014
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    Juan Gao · Warren Wakarchuk
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Gram-positive bacterium Cellulomonas fimi produces a large array of carbohydrate-active enzymes. Analysis of the collection of carbohydrate-active enzymes from the recent genome sequence of C. fimi ATCC 484 shows a large number of uncharacterized genes for glycoside hydrolase (GH) enzymes potentially involved in biomass utilization. To investigate the enzymatic activity of potential β-glucosidases in C. fimi, genes encoding several GH3 enzymes and one GH1 enzyme were cloned and recombinant proteins were expressed in Escherichia coli. Biochemical analysis of these proteins revealed that the enzymes exhibited different substrate specificities for para-nitrophenol-linked substrates (pNP), disaccharides, and oligosaccharides. Celf_2726 encoded a bifunctional enzyme with β-d-xylopyranosidase and α-l-arabinofuranosidase activities, based on pNP-linked substrates (CfXyl3A). Celf_0140 encoded a β-d-glucosidase with activity on β-1,3- and β-1,6-linked glucosyl disaccharides as well as pNP-β-Glc (CfBgl3A). Celf_0468 encoded a β-d-glucosidase with hydrolysis of pNP-β-Glc and hydrolysis/transglycosylation activities only on β-1,6-linked glucosyl disaccharide (CfBgl3B). Celf_3372 encoded a GH3 family member with broad aryl-β-d-glycosidase substrate specificity. Celf_2783 encoded the GH1 family member (CfBgl1), which was found to hydrolyze pNP-β-Glc/Fuc/Gal, as well as cellotetraose and cellopentaose. CfBgl1 also had good activity on β-1,2- and β-1,3-linked disaccharides but had only very weak activity on β-1,4/6-linked glucose.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2014 · Journal of Bacteriology
  • Michel Gilbert · Warren Wakarchuk · Scott Houliston
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The invention relates to sialate-O-acetyltransferase (SOAT) polypeptides, nucleic acids that encode the polypeptides, and methods of using the polypeptides.
    No preview · Patent · Jul 2014
  • Michel Gilbert · Warren Wakarchuk · Scott Houliston
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: α-1,4-galactosyltransferase (CgtD) polypeptides, nucleic acids that encode the polypeptides, including a polypeptide from Campylobacter jejuni strain LIO87 have been isolated and characterized. A method of producing a galactosylated saccharide comprising contacting an acceptor saccharide containing a terminal galactose, a donor substrate comprising a galactose moiety and one of the CgtD polypeptides is described.
    No preview · Patent · Jun 2014
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We designed a novel strategy for sensitively detecting the activity of α-2,8-polysialyltransferase (PST) by a combination of ganglioside GD3 functionalized gold nanoparticles and inactive endosialidase. We anticipate that this new method will facilitate the search for PST inhibitors as well as for improved mutant forms of PST in directed evolution experiments.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · Chemical Communications
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    N Martin Young · Simon J Foote · Warren W Wakarchuk
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Among the non-carbohydrate components of glycans, the addition of phosphocholine (ChoP) to the glycans of pathogens occurs more rarely than acetylation or methylation, but it has far more potent biological consequences. These arise from ChoP's multiple interactions with host proteins, which are important at all stages of the infection process. These stages include initial adherence to cells, encountering the host's innate immune system and then the adaptive immune system. Thus, in the initial stages of an infection, ChoP groups are an asset to the pathogen, but they can turn into a disadvantage subsequently. In this review, we have focussed on structural aspects of these phenomena. We describe the biosynthesis of the ChoP modification, the structures of the pathogen glycans known to carry ChoP groups and the host proteins that recognize ChoP.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Molecular Immunology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polysialic acids are bioactive carbohydrates found in eukaryotes and some bacterial pathogens. The bacterial polysialyltransferases (PSTs), which catalyze the synthesis of polysialic acid capsules, have previously been identified in select strains of Escherichia coli and Neisseria meningitidis and are classified in the Carbohydrate-Active enZYmes Database as glycosyltransferase family GT-38. In this study using DNA sequence analysis and functional characterization we have identified a novel polysialyltransferase from the bovine/ovine pathogen Mannheimia haemolytica A2 (PSTMh). The enzyme was expressed in recombinant form as a soluble maltose-binding-protein fusion in parallel with the related PSTs from E. coli K1 and N. meningitidis group B in order to perform a side-by-side comparison. Biochemical properties including solubility, acceptor preference, reaction pH optima, thermostability, kinetics, and product chain length for the enzymes were compared using a synthetic fluorescent acceptor molecule. PSTMh exhibited biochemical properties that make it an attractive candidate for chemi-enzymatic synthesis applications of polysialic acid. The activity of PSTMh was examined on a model glycoprotein and the surface of a neuroprogenitor cell line where the results supported its development for use in applications to therapeutic protein modification and cell surface glycan remodelling to enable cell migration at implantation sites to promote wound healing. The three PSTs examined here demonstrated different properties that would each be useful to therapeutic applications.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · PLoS ONE
  • Warren Wakarchuk · Elizabeth Willis · Michel Gilbert
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The invention relates to poly-sialyltransferse polypeptides with enhanced solubility and activity and methods of using the poly-sialyltransferases for production of poly-sialylated end products, e.g., oligosaccharides, glycoproteins and glycolipids.
    No preview · Patent · Jun 2013
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The hydrolysis in lysosomes of GM2 ganglioside to GM3 ganglioside requires the correct synthesis, intracellular assembly and transport of three separate gene products; i.e., the alpha and beta subunits of heterodimeric beta-hexosaminidase A, E.C. # (encoded by the HEXA and HEXB genes, respectively), and the GM2-activator protein (GM2AP, encoded by the GM2A gene). Mutations in any one of these genes can result in one of three neurodegenerative diseases collectively known as GM2 gangliosidosis (HEXA, Tay-Sachs disease, MIM # 272800; HEXB, Sandhoff disease, MIM # 268800; and GM2A, AB-variant form, MIM # 272750). Elements of both of the hexosaminidase A subunits are needed to productively interact with the GM2 ganglioside-GM2AP complex in the lysosome. Some of these elements have been predicted from the crystal structures of hexosaminidase and the activator. Recently a hybrid of the two subunits has been constructed and reported to be capable of forming homodimers that can perform this reaction in vivo, which could greatly simplify vector-mediated gene transfer approaches for Tay-Sachs or Sandhoff diseases. A cDNA encoding a hybrid hexosaminidase subunit capable of dimerizing and hydrolyzing GM2 ganglioside could be incorporated into a single vector, whereas packaging both subunits of hexosaminidase A into vectors, such as adeno-associated virus, would be impractical due to size constraints. In this report we examine the previously published hybrid construct (H1) and a new more extensive hybrid (H2), with our documented in cellulo (live cell- based) assay utilizing a fluorescent GM2 ganglioside derivative. Unfortunately when Tay-Sachs cells were transfected with either the H1 or H2 hybrid construct and then were fed the GM2 derivative, no significant increase in its turnover was detected. In vitro assays with the isolated H1 or H2 homodimers confirmed that neither was capable of human GM2AP-dependent hydrolysis of GM2 ganglioside.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · PLoS ONE
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    Full-text · Dataset · Jan 2013
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sialyltransferases (STs) play essential roles in signaling and in the cellular recognition processes of mammalian cells by selectively installing cell-surface sialic acids in an appropriate manner both temporally and organ-specifically. The availability of the first three-dimensional structure of a mammalian (GT29) sialyltransferase has, for the first time, allowed quantitative structure/function analyses to be performed, thereby providing reliable insights into the roles of key active site amino acids. Kinetic analyses of mutants of ST3Gal-I, in conjunction with structural studies, have confirmed the mechanistic roles of His302 and His319 as general acid and base catalysts, respectively, and have quantitated other interactions with the cytosine monophosphate-N-acetyl -neuraminic acid donor substrate. The contributions of side chains that provide key interactions with the acceptor substrate, defining its specificity, have also been quantitated. Particularly important transition-state interactions of 2.5 and 2.7 kcal mol-1 are found between the acceptor axial 4-hydroxyl and the conserved side chains of Gln108 and Tyr269, respectively. These results provide a basis for the engineering of mammalian STs to accommodate non-natural substrate analogs that should prove valuable as chemical biological probes of sialyltransferase function. © 2013 The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected] /* */
    No preview · Article · Jan 2013 · Glycobiology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Escherichia coli O9a and O8 polymannose O-polysaccharides (O-PSs) serve as model systems for the biosynthesis of bacterial polysaccharides by ATP-binding cassette transporter-dependent pathways. Both O-PSs contain a conserved primer-adaptor domain at the reducing terminus and a serotype-specific repeat unit domain. The repeat unit domain is polymerized by the serotype-specific WbdA mannosyltransferase. In serotype O9a, WbdA is a bifunctional α-(1→2)-, α-(1→3)-mannosyltransferase, and its counterpart in serotype O8 is trifunctional (α-(1→2), α-(1→3), and β-(1→2)). Little is known about the detailed structures or mechanisms of action of the WbdA polymerases, and here we establish that they are multidomain enzymes. WbdAO9a contains two separable and functionally active domains, whereas WbdAO8 possesses three. In WbdCO9a and WbdBO9a, substitution of the first Glu of the EX7E motif had detrimental effects on the enzyme activity, whereas substitution of the second had no significant effect on activity in vivo. Mutation of the Glu residues in the EX7E motif of the N-terminal WbdAO9a domain resulted in WbdA variants unable to synthesize O-PS. In contrast, mutation of the Glu residues in the motif of the C-terminal WbdAO9a domain generated an enzyme capable of synthesizing an altered O-PS repeat unit consisting of only α-(1→2) linkages. In vitro assays with synthetic acceptors unequivocally confirmed that the N-terminal domain of WbdAO9a possesses α-(1→2)-mannosyltransferase activity. Together, these studies form a framework for detailed structure-function studies on individual domains and a strategy applicable for dissection and analysis of other multidomain glycosyltransferases.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2012 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Escherichia coli O9a and O8 O-antigen serotypes represent model systems for the ABC transporter-dependent synthesis of bacterial polysaccharides. The O9a and O8 antigens are linear mannose homopolymers containing conserved reducing termini (the primer-adaptor), a serotype-specific repeat unit domain, and a terminator. Synthesis of these glycans occurs on the polyisoprenoid lipid-linked primer, undecaprenol pyrophosphoryl-GlcpNAc, by two conserved mannosyltransferases, WbdC and WbdB, and a serotype-specific mannosyltransferase, WbdA. The glycan structure and pattern of conservation in the O9a and O8 mannosyltransferases are not consistent with the existing model of O9a biosynthesis. Here we establish a revised pathway using a combination of in vivo (mutant complementation) experiments and in vitro strategies with purified enzymes and synthetic acceptors. WbdC and WbdB synthesize the adaptor region, where they transfer one and two α-(1→3)-linked mannose residues, respectively. The WbdA enzymes are solely responsible for forming the repeat unit domains of these O-antigens. WbdA(O9a) has two predicted active sites and polymerizes a tetrasaccharide repeat unit containing two α-(1→3)- and two α-(1→2)-linked mannopyranose residues. In contrast, WbdA(O8) polymerizes trisaccharide repeat units containing single α-(1→3)-, α-(1→2)-, and β-(1→2)-mannopyranoses. These studies illustrate assembly systems exploiting several mannosyltransferases with flexible active sites, arranged in single- and multiple-domain formats.
    Preview · Article · Aug 2012 · Journal of Biological Chemistry
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In vertebrates, polysialic acid (PSA) is typically added to the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) in the Golgi by PST or STX polysialyltransferase. PSA promotes plasticity, and its enhanced expression by viral delivery of the PST or STX gene has been shown to promote cellular processes that are useful for repair of the injured adult nervous system. Here we demonstrate a new strategy for PSA induction on cells involving addition of a purified polysialyltransferase from Neisseria meningitidis (PST(Nm)) to the extracellular environment. In the presence of its donor substrate (CMP-Neu5Ac), PST(Nm) synthesized PSA directly on surfaces of various cell types in culture, including Chinese hamster ovary cells, chicken DF1 fibroblasts, primary rat Schwann cells, and mouse embryonic stem cells. Similarly, injection of PST(Nm) and donor in vivo was able to produce PSA in different adult brain regions, including the cerebral cortex, striatum, and spinal cord. PSA synthesis by PST(Nm) requires the presence of the donor CMP-Neu5Ac, and the product could be degraded by the PSA-specific endoneuraminidase-N. Although PST(Nm) was able to add PSA to NCAM, most of its product was attached to other cell surface proteins. Nevertheless, the PST(Nm)-induced PSA displayed the ability to attenuate cell adhesion, promote neurite outgrowth, and enhance cell migration as has been reported for endogenous PSA-NCAM. Polysialylation by PST(Nm) occurred in vivo in less than 2.5 h, persisted in tissues, and then decreased within a few weeks. Together these characteristics suggest that a PST(Nm)-based approach may provide a valuable alternative to PST gene therapy.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2012 · Journal of Biological Chemistry

Publication Stats

6k Citations
690.46 Total Impact Points


  • 1995-2013
    • National Research Council Canada
      • Institute for Biological Sciences (IBS)
      Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 2010
    • University of Alberta
      • Department of Chemistry
      Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 1984-2002
    • University of British Columbia - Vancouver
      • • Department of Chemistry
      • • Department of Microbiology and Immunology
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 1996
    • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust
      • Department of Paediatrics
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom