Mutations that disrupt developmental patterning in Drosophila have provided considerable information about growth factor signaling mechanisms. Three genes recently demonstrated to affect signaling by members of the Wnt, transforming growth factor-β, Hedgehog, and fibroblast growth factor families in Drosophila encode proteins with homology to vertebrate enzymes involved in glycosaminoglycan synthesis. We report here the biochemical characterization of glycosaminoglycans in Drosophila bearing mutations in sugarless, sulfateless, and tout-velu. We find that mutations in sugarless, which encodes a protein with homology to UDP-glucose dehydrogenase, compromise the synthesis of both chondroitin and heparan sulfate, as would be predicted from a defect in UDP-glucuronate production. Defects in sulfateless, a gene encoding a protein with similarity to vertebrate N-deacetylase/N-sulfotransferases, do not affect chondroitin sulfate levels or composition but dramatically alter the composition of heparin lyase-released disaccharides. N-, 6-O-, and 2-O-sulfated disaccharides are absent and replaced entirely with an unsulfated disaccharide. A mutation in tout-velu, a gene related to the vertebrate Exostoses 1 heparan sulfate co-polymerase, likewise does not affect chondroitin sulfate synthesis but reduces all forms of heparan sulfate to below the limit of detection. These findings show that sugarless, sulfateless, and tout-velu affect glycosaminoglycan biosynthesis and demonstrate the utility of Drosophila as a model organism for studying the function and biosynthesis of glycosaminoglycans in vivo.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology