Glycosyltransferases (GTs) are carbohydrate-active enzymes that are encoded by the genomes of organisms spanning all domains of life. GTs catalyze glycosidic bond formation, transferring a sugar monomer from an activated donor to an acceptor substrate, often another saccharide. GTs from family 47 (GT47, PF03016) are involved in the synthesis of complex glycoproteins in mammals and insects and play a major role in the synthesis of almost every class of polysaccharide in plants, with the exception of cellulose, callose, and mixed linkage β-1,3/1,4-glucan. GT47 enzymes adopt a GT-B fold and catalyze the formation of glycosidic bonds through an inverting mechanism. Unlike animal genomes, which encode few GT47 enzymes, plant genomes contain 30 or more diverse GT47 coding sequences. Our current knowledge of the GT47 family across plant species brings us an interesting view, showcasing how members exhibit a great diversity in both donor and acceptor substrate specificity, even for members that are classified in the same phylogenetic clade. Thus, we discuss how plant GT47 family members represent a great case to study the relationship between substrate specificity, protein structure, and protein evolution. Most of the plant GT47 enzymes that are identified to date are involved in biosynthesis of plant cell wall polysaccharides, including xyloglucan, xylan, mannan, and pectins. This indicates unique and crucial roles of plant GT47 enzymes in cell wall formation. The aim of this review is to summarize findings about GT47 enzymes and highlight new challenges and approaches on the horizon to study this family.

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