N-linked glycosylation can profoundly affect protein expression and function. N-linked glycosylation usually occurs at the sequon Asn-Xaa-Ser/Thr, where Xaa is any amino acid residue except Pro. However, many Asn-Xaa-Ser/Thr sequons are glycosylated inefficiently or not at all for reasons that are poorly understood. We have used a site-directed mutagenesis approach to examine how the Xaa and hydroxy (Ser/Thr) amino acid residues in sequons influence core-glycosylation efficiency. We recently demonstrated that certain Xaa amino acids inhibit core glycosylation of the sequon, Asn37-Xaa-Ser, in rabies virus glycoprotein (RGP). Here we examine the impact of different Xaa residues on core-glycosylation efficiency when the Ser residue in this sequon is replaced with Thr. The core-glycosylation efficiencies of RGP variants with different Asn37-Xaa-Ser/Thr sequons were compared by using a cell-free translation/glycosylation system. Using this approach we confirm that four Asn-Xaa-Ser sequons are poor oligosaccharide acceptors: Asn-Trp-Ser, Asn-Asp-Ser, Asn-Glu-Ser and Asn-Leu-Ser. In contrast, Asn-Xaa-Thr sequons are efficiently glycosylated, even when Xaa = Trp, Asp, Glu or Leu. A comparison of the glycosylation status of Asn-Xaa-Ser and Asn-Xaa-Thr sequons in other glycoproteins confirms that sequons with Xaa = Trp, Asp, Glu or Leu are rarely glycosylated when Ser is the hydroxy amino acid residue, and that these sequons are unlikely to serve as glycosylation sites when introduced into proteins by site-directed mutagenesis.

This content is only available as a PDF.