This subproject is one of many research subprojects utilizing the resources provided by a Center grant funded by NIH/NCRR. Primary support for the subproject and the subproject's principal investigator may have been provided by other sources, including other NIH sources. The Total Cost listed for the subproject likely represents the estimated amount of Center infrastructure utilized by the subproject, not direct funding provided by the NCRR grant to the subproject or subproject staff. Pathogenic fungi and plants have abundant and diverse types of polysaccharides (PS) decorating their cell surfaces. Surprisingly, little is known regarding the biochemical process involved in polysaccharide synthesis and their assembly. The overall goal is to understand the pathways and kinetics involved in synthesizing necessary polysaccharides found in pathogens such as Cryptococcus neoformans. NMR can detect intermediates as well as products in real-time analysis of enzymatic reactions. A quantitative measurement of kinetics and relative concentrations of substrates, intermediates and products can support a detailed model of the enzyme under physiological conditions. By extrapolation, multi-enzymatic systems can also be studied and the data can be used to model metabolic pathways. Very high-field NMR spectrometers (800-900 MHz) are being used due to the complexity of these reaction mixtures and the need for high sensitivity. The first stage is to build kinetic models by measuring substrate and product fluxes in the NMR tube containing combinations of enzymes and activated sugars. The second stage is to examine similar fluxes in organelle preparations such as Golgi, or whole cells. C13-labeled substrates will be used to simplify the spectral data. Two test systems are being investigated: (1) formation of cell-wall polysaccharides from nucleotide-sugars in plants (e.g. pea) and (2) formation of exo-polysaccharides in Tremella mesenterica. In addition, purified enzyme systems are being studied to test the methodology. The plant systems are useful because of the quantity and ease of preparation of the organelle fractions. The Tremella fungus is a non-pathogenic single cell eukaryote that synthesizes large quantities of a polysaccharide very similar in structure to polysaccharides in the pathogenic Cryptoccoccus. The experiments will include identifying the enzymatic intermediates during different incubation times, determining enzyme kinetics of these reactions, and following formation of polysaccharide products. By combining analyses of dynamic processes with structural information of the growing polysaccharide identified with particular cell compartments, the steps involved in the synthesis can be identified. Factors influencing and controlling the uptake of precursors, the elongation of the polysaccharide and the export to the outer wall can be examined.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
Biotechnology Resource Grants (P41)
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University of Georgia
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