The lipopolysaccharide of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 contains an unusual sugar, 2,3-diacetamido-2,3-dideoxy-d-mannuronic acid (d-ManNAc3NAcA). wbpB, wbpE, and wbpD are thought to encode oxidase, transaminase, and N-acetyltransferase enzymes. To characterize their functions, recombinant proteins were overexpressed and purified from heterologous hosts. Activities of His6-WbpB and His6-WbpE were detected only when both proteins were combined in the same reaction. Using a direct MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry approach, we identified ions that corresponded to the predicted products of WbpB (UDP-3-keto-d-GlcNAcA) and WbpE (UDP-d-GlcNAc3NA) in the coupled enzyme-substrate reaction. Additionally, in reactions involving WbpB, WbpE, and WbpD, an ion consistent with the expected product of WbpD (UDP-d-GlcNAc3NAcA) was identified. Preparative quantities of UDP-d-GlcNAc3NA and UDP-d-GlcNAc3NAcA were enzymatically synthesized. These compounds were purified by high-performance liquid chromatography, and their structures were elucidated by NMR spectroscopy. This is the first report of the functional characterization of these proteins, and the enzymatic synthesis of UDP-d-GlcNAc3NA and UDP-d-GlcNAc3NAcA
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