Expression and Characterization of Human β-1, 4-Galactosyltransferase 1 (β4GalT1) Using Silkworm–Baculovirus Expression System


Baculovirus expression vector system (BEVS) is widely known as a mass-production tool to produce functional recombinant glycoproteins except that it may not be always suitable for medical practice due to the differences in the structure of N-linked glycans between insects and mammalian. Currently, various approaches have been reported to alter N-linked glycan structures of glycoproteins derived from insects into terminally sialylated complex-type N-glycans. In the light of those studies, we also proposed in vitro maturation of N-glycan with mass-produced and purified glycosyltransferases by silkworm–BEVS. β-1,4-Galactosyltransferase 1 (β4GalT1) is known as one of type II transmembrane enzymes that transfer galactose in a β-1, 4 linkage to accepter sugars, and a key enzyme for further sialylation of N-glycans. In this study, we developed a large-scale production of recombinant human β4GalT1 (rhβ4GalT1) with N- or C-terminal tags in silkworm–BEVS. We demonstrated that rhβ4GalT1 is N-glycosylated and without mucin-type glycosylation. Interestingly, we found that purified rhβ4GalT1 from silkworm serum presented higher galactosyltransferase activity than that expressed from cultured mammalian cells. We also validated the UDP-galactose transferase activity of produced rhβ4GalT1 proteins by using protein subtracts from silkworm silk gland. Taken together, rhβ4GalT1 from silkworms can become a valuable tool for producing high-quality recombinant glycoproteins with mammalian-like N-glycans.

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Correspondence to Jae Man Lee.

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Morokuma, D., Xu, J., Hino, M. et al. Expression and Characterization of Human β-1, 4-Galactosyltransferase 1 (β4GalT1) Using Silkworm–Baculovirus Expression System. Mol Biotechnol 59, 151–158 (2017).

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  • Baculovirus expression vector system
  • β-1, 4-Galactosyltransferase 1
  • N-glycosylation
  • Silkworm