Glycosyltransferases are carbohydrate active enzymes containing catalytic modules involved in catalysing the biosynthesis of glycosidic bonds in oligo- and polysaccharides and glycoconjugates. One of the most comprehensive collections of Carbohydrate Active enZYmes is the CAZy database (http://www.cazy.org) comprising 120,000 glycosyltransferases allocated to 96 families based mainly on sequence homologies of their conserved and catalytically active domains (Cantarel et al., 2009). Interestingly, the glycosyltransferase activities of only about 1.6% of these proteins have been experimentally characterized (Lombard et al., 2014). In recent years, membrane-bound glycosyltransferases of a number of families have been shown to play a key role in the biosynthesis of plant cell-wall polysaccharides (Doblin et al., 2010; Scheller and Ulvskov, 2010; Driouich et al., 2012). They catalyze the transfer of glycosyl residues from donor nucleotide sugars to acceptors, forming the glycosidic bonds between adjacent glycosyl residues. Family 34 contains glycosyltransferases that have been shown to be involved in the biosynthesis of xyloglucans and transfer xylosyl residues to (1→4)-β-glucan chains (Keegstra and Cavalier, 2011). Our previous work suggests that Pinus radiata protein PrGT34B is a xyloglucan (1→6)-α-xylosyltransferase (Ade et al., 2014). Here, we describe a procedure for determining the xylosyltransferase activity of PrGT34B in vitro. We measured the transfer of xylose from the donor substrate UDP-xylose to different cello-oligosaccharide acceptor substrates under controlled reaction conditions. The assays include quantification of radioactively labeled reaction products and their identification by mass spectrometry. We also describe the purification, identification and quantification of the heterologously expressed recombinant protein PrGT34B in preparation for its use in the assays. This procedure may be applied to a wide range of glycosyltransferases in many different plant species.
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