The Role of O-mannosyl Glycans in Drosophila Development
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O-mannosylation is a specific form of glycosylation, a post-translational protein modification with O-linked mannose attached to serine or threonine residues. O-mannosylation is implicated in crucial biological processes such as neuronal and muscle development, cell adhesion and cell migration. Two O-mannosyltransferase genes have been described in mammalian genomes so far, POMT1 and POMT2. Disruptions of O-mannosylation result in congenital muscular disorders in humans. The most severe, the Walker-Warburg Syndrome is associated with mutations in POMT1 and POMT2. Just like vertebrates, Drosophila has two O-mannosyltrasferase genes, DmPOMT1 (rt) and DmPOMT2 (tw), which share significant similarities with their mammalian counterparts. Mutations in both DmPOMT1 and DmPOMT2 cause the "rotated abdomen" phenotype, a clockwise rotation of abdominal segments in adult flies. In my dissertation, I analyzed the expression patterns of rt and tw during development. Both genes have similar essentially overlapping expression patterns. Immunostaining revealed that RT and TW proteins are co-localized in the ER compartment. The analysis of double mutants revealed a mutual epistatic relationship between rt and tw, which could be evidence for RT and TW functioning in the same molecular complex. Also, I studied temporal and spatial requirements of tw during development. I found a broad "developmental window competent to fully rescue the abdomen rotation in adult flies." The spatial studies of tw requirements demonstrated that tw expression is pattern-dependent and the function of tw is cell-autonomous or it has a very short-range effect. The analysis of rescue results with different drivers suggested that the tw requirement is not strictly limited to larval epidermis or muscles alone, but required a contribution from epidermal and muscle cells with a possible involvement of CNS. I have shown that Drosophila Dystroglycan is modified with mannose in the presence of RT-TW enzymatic complex in vivo and in vitro. The co-expression of RT and TW is required to generate high-molecular-mass bands of DG. The lectin staining revealed differences in glycan compositions of DG purified from different genetic backgrounds. Overall, this research work established Drosophila as a model system to study mannosylation, which may shed light on mechanisms of muscular dystrophies in humans.
Lyalin, Dmitry (2011). The Role of O-mannosyl Glycans in Drosophila Development. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from