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    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

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Record number 392711
Title Enzymatic production of hyaluronan oligo- and polysaccharides
Author(s) Kooy, F.K.
Source Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Gerrit Eggink; Hans Tramper, co-promotor(en): Carmen Boeriu. - [S.l. : S.n. - ISBN 9789085856481 - 174
Department(s) Bioprocess Engineering
AFSG Biobased Products
Publication type Dissertation, internally prepared
Publication year 2010
Keyword(s) hyaluronzuur - derivaten - oligosacchariden - polysacchariden - industriële microbiologie - industriële enzymen - hyaluronic acid - derivatives - oligosaccharides - polysaccharides - industrial microbiology - industrial enzymes
Categories Industrial Microbiology
Abstract Hyaluronan oligo- and polysaccharides are abundant in the human body. Depending on the chain length, hyaluronan is an important structural component or is involved in influencing cell responses during embryonic development, healing processes, inflammation and cancer. Due to these diverse roles of hyaluronan, there are multiple applications already in use or in development, such as supplementation of fluid in eyes and joints, cosmetic tissue augmentation, enhancing wound healing, tissue engineering, cancer treatment, controlled drug release and targeted drug delivery. State-of-the-art hyaluronan production techniques include bacterial fermentation to produce long hyaluronan polymers with a small chain length distribution and in vitro enzymatic systems to produce hyaluronan oligosaccharides of one chain length. Both production strategies make use of hyaluronan synthase (HAS), an enzyme that elongates UDP-glucuronic acid (UDP-GlcUA) and UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) into hyaluronan.

The main question in hyaluronan production today is how the chain length of the products can be controlled. Since most production processes use hyaluronan synthases, the aim of this thesis was to elucidate the polymerization mechanism of Pasteurella multocida hyaluronan synthase (PmHAS) from a biochemical point of view. In addition, the acquired knowledge is used for improving the control on hyaluronan chain length in polymerization reactions using PmHAS. Valuable information important for production processes on the intrinsic properties of the enzyme, such as substrate affinity, can be obtained by kinetic studies using single-step elongations. Kinetic studies also provide insights on how polymerization is achieved and, combined with structural studies, the identification of amino acid residues that are important for polymerization. This knowledge can be used for improving the hyaluronan synthesis performance of the enzyme.

Kinetic studies require purified substrates in quantities of mg-scale. Hyaluronan (HA) oligosaccharides were obtained through stepwise hyaluronan cleavage using hyaluronidase and consecutive separation of the reaction mixture by flash-chromatography (Chapter 2). The enzymatic hydrolysis was optimized by experimental design studies with pH, enzyme concentration and reaction time as parameters. Empirical models were developed for the yield of each individual target HA oligosaccharide using the results from a central composite design. Selective production of short HA oligomers (HA ≤ 10) or longer oligosaccharides (HA > 10) was made possible through implementation of the reaction conditions indicated by the empirical models. Separated HA oligomers were characterized by a combination of anion exchange chromatography and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry with time-off-flight analysis. Using these techniques, the desired quantities of purified target HA oligosaccharides (n = 4, 6, 8 and 10) were obtained and used in further studies.

Besides the single-step elongations assessed in kinetic studies, full polymerization studies with both UDP-sugars available were used to investigate the influence of substrate concentrations on the chain length distribution of the hyaluronan products. In order to quantify all oligosaccharides formed during PmHAS polymerization in μl-scale reactions, HA templates consisting of a fluorophore-labeled HA tetrasaccharide (HA4) were generated (Chapter 3). A fast, simple and sensitive assay was developed based on fluorophore-assisted carbohydrate electrophoresis (FACE) that was used for quantification and characterization of PmHAS polymerization products.

The individual β1,3-glucuronyl-transferase (UA-transferase) and β1,4-N-acetylglucosamine-transferase (NAc-transferase) activities of PmHAS were investigated separately using kinetic studies, where the reaction of an HA oligosaccharide was followed with, respectively, UDP-GlcUA or UDP-GlcNAc in single-step elongations. In Chapter 4, the influence of HA oligosaccharide length (n = 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9) on the polymerization reaction was investigated by one-substrate kinetics, varying only the HA oligosaccharide concentration at saturating UDP-sugar concentration. These reactions followed Michaelis Menten kinetics, although HA oligosaccharides may become inhibiting at elevated concentrations above 6 mM. The observed kcat values increased with increasing HA oligosaccharide length to a constant value at HA6 and HA7. The specificity constant kcat/Km values for HA oligosaccharides in the UA-transferase domain increased at increasing oligosaccharide length, whereas in the NAc-transferase domain kcat/Km values were constant at a low value. This indicates that there are two separate oligosaccharide binding sites of different lengths, one in each transferase domain of PmHAS. In Chapter 4, it was demonstrated that the chain-lenght distribution in PmHAS polymerization reactions can be decreased, and thus improved, by using saturating concentrations of both HA oligosaccharides and UDP-sugars.

Chapter 5 describes two-substrate kinetic studies, where in single-step elongations both HA oligosaccharide and one of the UDP-sugars were varied, to investigate the polymerization mechanism of each individual transferase domain in PmHAS. Dead-end inhibition studies and goodness-of-fit parameters were used to distinguish between two-substrate models. From this analysis follows that both transferase domains elongate the UDP-sugar through a sequential mechanism, which is most likely an ordered one. In this proposed mechanism, the UDP-sugar is first bound followed by binding of the HA oligosaccharide, after which first the elongated HA oligosaccharide and then UDP is released. Large differences between Km values for UDP-GlcNAc and UDP-GlcUA, also found in Class I HAS enzymes, suggest that UDP-GlcNAc concentration is involved in the regulation of HAS activity and thus the chain length of hyaluronan products.

Structural studies were used to evaluate the results obtained with kinetic studies. In Chapter 4, a structural homology model of PmHAS was built based on crystal structure K4CP chondroitin polymerase in E. coli, which has a high sequence identity of 62% and high sequence homology of 78% with PmHAS. The active sites of PmHAS are structurally related to other glycosyltransferases and this provided information on where the oligosaccharide binding sites could be located. These putative oligosaccharide binding sites differ in size, as was predicted by kinetic studies (Chapter 4). Furthermore, structural similarities between PmHAS, α1,3-galactosyltransferase (α3GT) and β1,4-galactosyltransferase (β4Gal-T1) demonstrated that PmHAS contains in each transferase domain one flexible loop that forms a bridge over the active site. In crystal structures of α3GT and β4Gal-T1, these flexible loops have been shown to change conformation upon binding the UDP-sugar. Based on similarities in kinetic mechanisms and structures between PmHAS, α3GT and β4Gal-T1, it is likely that the flexible loops in PmHAS follow a similar conformational change, which makes the proposed ordered mechanism the only possible mechanism (Chapter 5).

In Chapter 6, the knowledge on the PmHAS polymerization mechanism gained in earlier chapters is reviewed and used to create new insights in the polymerization mechanism of Class I HAS enzymes. Both Class I HASs and PmHAS are used in hyaluronan production, and, therefore, the differences and similarities are discussed in Chapter 6. During hyaluronan production, there are many different aspects, such as intrinsic properties of the enzyme, cell metabolism and fermentation reaction conditions, that influence hyaluronan chain length and yield (Chapter 6). Moreover, hyaluronan production systems that are able to produce hyaluronan of desired length are discussed in Chapter 6 and a personal view of how these systems can be improved is presented.
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