At least three structural proteins in Paramecium bursaria Chlorella virus (PBCV-1) are glycosylated, including the major capsid protein Vp54. However, unlike other glycoprotein-containing viruses that use host-encoded enzymes in the endoplasmic reticulum-Golgi to glycosylate their proteins, PBCV-1 encodes at least many, if not all, of the glycosyltransferases used to glycosylate its structural proteins. As described here, PBCV-1 also encodes two open reading frames that resemble bacterial and mammalian enzymes involved in de novo GDP-L-fucose biosynthesis. This pathway, starting from GDP-D-mannose, consists of two sequential steps catalyzed by GDP-D-mannose 4,6 dehydratase (GMD) and GDP-4-keto-6-deoxy-D-mannose epimerase/reductase, respectively. The two PBCV-1-encoded genes were expressed in Escherichia coli, and the recombinant proteins had the predicted enzyme activity. However, in addition to the dehydratase activity, PBCV-1 GMD also had a reductase activity, producing GDP-D-rhamnose. In vivo studies established that PBCV-1 GMD and GDP-4-keto-6-deoxy-D-mannose epimerase/reductase are expressed after virus infection and that both GDP-L-fucose and GDP-D-rhamnose are produced in virus-infected cells. Thus, PBCV-1 is the first virus known to encode enzymes involved in nucleotide sugar metabolism. Because fucose and rhamnose are components of the glycans attached to Vp54, the pathway could circumvent a limited supply of GDP sugars by the algal host.
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