1887

Abstract

Nonulosonic acids (NulOs) are a group of nine-carbon monosaccharides with different functions in nature. -acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) is the most common NulO. It covers the membrane surface of all human cells and is a central molecule in the process of self-recognition via SIGLECS receptors. Some pathogenic bacteria escape the immune system by copying the sialylation of the host cell membrane. Neu5Ac production in these bacteria is catalysed by the enzyme NeuB. Some bacteria can also produce other NulOs named pseudaminic and legionaminic acids, through the NeuB homologues PseI and LegI, respectively. In Opisthokonta eukaryotes, the biosynthesis of Neu5Ac is catalysed by the enzyme NanS. In this study, we used publicly available data of sequences of NulOs synthases to investigate its distribution within the three domains of life and its relationship with pathogenic bacteria. We mined the KEGG database and found 425 NeuB sequences. Most NeuB sequences (58.74 %) from the KEGG orthology database were classified as from environmental bacteria; however, sequences from pathogenic bacteria showed higher conservation and prevalence of a specific domain named SAF. Using the HMM profile we identified 13 941 NulO synthase sequences in UniProt. Phylogenetic analysis of these sequences showed that the synthases were divided into three main groups that can be related to the lifestyle of these bacteria: (I) predominantly environmental, (II) intermediate and (III) predominantly pathogenic. NeuB was widely distributed in the groups. However, LegI and PseI were more concentrated in groups II and III, respectively. We also found that PseI appeared later in the evolutionary process, derived from NeuB. We use this same methodology to retrieve sialic acid synthase sequences from Archaea and Eukarya. A large-scale phylogenetic analysis showed that while the Archaea sequences are spread across the tree, the eukaryotic NanS sequences were grouped in a specific branch in group II. None of the bacterial NanS sequences grouped with the eukaryotic branch. The analysis of conserved residues showed that the synthases of Archaea and Eukarya present a mutation in one of the three catalytic residues, an E134D change, related to a reference sequence. We also found that the conservation profile is higher between NeuB of pathogenic bacteria and NanS of eukaryotes than between NeuB of environmental bacteria and NanS of eukaryotes. Our large-scale analysis brings new perspectives on the evolution of NulOs synthases, suggesting their presence in the last common universal ancestor.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (Award 424410/2018-4)
    • Principle Award Recipient: HelissonFaoro
  • Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Award VPPCB-07-FIO-18-2-38)
    • Principle Award Recipient: HelissonFaoro
  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License.
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2021-04-13
2022-01-21
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