The α1,6-fucosyltransferase, FUT8, is the sole enzyme catalyzing the core-fucosylation of N-glycoproteins in mammalian systems. Previous studies using free N-glycans as acceptor substrates indicated that a terminal β1,2-GlcNAc moiety on the Man-α1,3-Man arm of N-glycan substrates is required for efficient FUT8-catalyzed core-fucosylation. In contrast, we recently demonstrated that, in a proper protein context, FUT8 could also fucosylate Man5GlcNAc2 without a GlcNAc at the non-reducing end. We describe here a further study of the substrate specificity of FUT8 using a range of N-glycans containing different aglycones. We found that FUT8 could fucosylate most of high-mannose and complex-type N-glycans, including highly branched N-glycans from chicken ovalbumin, when the aglycone moiety is modified with a 9-fluorenylmethyloxycarbonyl (Fmoc) moiety or in a suitable peptide/protein context, even if they lack the terminal GlcNAc moiety on the Man-α1,3-Man arm. FUT8 could also fucosylate paucimannose structures when they are on glycoprotein substrates. Such core-fucosylated paucimannosylation is a prominent feature of lysosomal proteins of human neutrophils and several types of cancers. We also found that sialylation of N-glycans significantly reduced their activity as a substrate of FUT8. Kinetic analysis demonstrated that Fmoc aglycone modification could either improve the turnover rate or decrease the KM value depending on the nature of the substrates, thus significantly enhancing the overall efficiency of FUT8 catalyzed fucosylation. Our results indicate that an appropriate aglycone context of N-glycans could significantly broaden the acceptor substrate specificity of FUT8 beyond what has previously been thought.

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