Characterization of a Glycolipid Synthase Producing α-Galactosylceramide in Bacteroides fragilis

Marc Caballé, Magda Faijes, Antoni Planas

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review


Glycolipids are complex molecules involved in important cellular processes. Among them, the glycosphingolipid α-galactosylceramide has proven to be of interest in biomedicine for its immunostimulatory capabilities. Given its structural requirements, the use of ceramide glycosyltransferase enzymes capable of synthesizing this molecule under in vivo or in vitro conditions is a potential production strategy. Several GT4 enzymes from Bacteroides fragilis were considered as potential candidates in addition to the known BF9343_3149, but only this one showed glycolipid synthase activity. The enzyme was expressed as a SUMO fusion protein to produce soluble protein. It is a non-processive glycosyltransferase that prefers UDP-Gal over UDP-Glc as a donor substrate, and maximum activity was found at pH 7.3 and around 30–35 °C. It does not require metal cations for activity as other GT4 enzymes, but Zn2+ inactivates the enzyme. The reaction occurs when the ceramide lipid acceptor is solubilized with BSA (100% conversion) but not when it is presented in mixed micelles, and anionic lipids do not increase activity, as in other membrane-associated glycolipid synthases. Further protein engineering to increase stability and activity can make feasible the enzymatic synthesis of α-GalCer for biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13975
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • galactosylceramide
  • glycosphingolipids
  • glycosyltransferase


Dive into the research topics of 'Characterization of a Glycolipid Synthase Producing α-Galactosylceramide in Bacteroides fragilis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this