Overview of Nucleotide Sugar Transporter Gene Family Functions Across Multiple Species

Ariel Orellana, Carol Moraga, Macarena Araya, Adrian Moreno

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Glycoproteins and glycolipids are crucial in a number of cellular processes, such as growth, development, and responses to external cues, among others. Polysaccharides, another class of sugar-containing molecules, also play important structural and signaling roles in the extracellular matrix. The additions of glycans to proteins and lipids, as well as polysaccharide synthesis, are processes that primarily occur in the Golgi apparatus, and the substrates used in this biosynthetic process are nucleotide sugars. These proteins, lipids, and polysaccharides are also modified by the addition of sulfate groups in the Golgi apparatus in a series of reactions where nucleotide sulfate is needed. The required nucleotide sugar substrates are mainly synthesized in the cytosol and transported into the Golgi apparatus by nucleotide sugar transporters (NSTs), which can additionally transport nucleotide sulfate. Due to the critical role of NSTs in eukaryotic organisms, any malfunction of these could change glycan and polysaccharide structures, thus affecting function and altering organism physiology. For example, mutations or deletion on NST genes lead to pathological conditions in humans or alter cell walls in plants. In recent years, many NSTs have been identified and functionally characterized, but several remain unanalyzed. This study examined existing information on functionally characterized NSTs and conducted a phylogenetic analysis of 257 NSTs predicted from nine animal and plant model species, as well as from protists and fungi. From this analysis, relationships between substrate specificity and the primary NST structure can be inferred, thereby advancing understandings of nucleotide sugar gene family functions across multiple species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3150-3165
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2016


  • 3′-Phosphoadenosine 5′-phosphosulfate
  • Glycosylation
  • Golgi apparatus
  • Nucleotide sugar transporter
  • Nucleotide sugars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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