Cytoplasmic glycoengineering enables biosynthesis of nanoscale glycoprotein assemblies

Hanne L.P. Tytgat, Chia Wei Lin, Mikail D. Levasseur, Markus B. Tomek, Christoph Rutschmann, Jacqueline Mock, Nora Liebscher, Naohiro Terasaka, Yusuke Azuma, Michael Wetter, Martin F. Bachmann, Donald Hilvert, Markus Aebi, Timothy G. Keys*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Glycosylation of proteins profoundly impacts their physical and biological properties. Yet our ability to engineer novel glycoprotein structures remains limited. Established bacterial glycoengineering platforms require secretion of the acceptor protein to the periplasmic space and preassembly of the oligosaccharide substrate as a lipid-linked precursor, limiting access to protein and glycan substrates respectively. Here, we circumvent these bottlenecks by developing a facile glycoengineering platform that operates in the bacterial cytoplasm. The Glycoli platform leverages a recently discovered site-specific polypeptide glycosyltransferase together with variable glycosyltransferase modules to synthesize defined glycans, of bacterial or mammalian origin, directly onto recombinant proteins in the E. coli cytoplasm. We exploit the cytoplasmic localization of this glycoengineering platform to generate a variety of multivalent glycostructures, including self-assembling nanomaterials bearing hundreds of copies of the glycan epitope. This work establishes cytoplasmic glycoengineering as a powerful platform for producing glycoprotein structures with diverse future biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5403
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


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