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Endolysosomal N-glycan Processing is Critical to Attain the Most Active Form of the Enzyme Acid Alpha-glucosidase

Journal of Biological Chemistry
May 25, 2021

Acid alpha-glucosidase (GAA) is a lysosomal glycogen-catabolizing enzyme, the deficiency of which leads to Pompe disease. Pompe disease can be treated with systemic recombinant human GAA (rhGAA) enzyme replacement therapy (ERT), but the current standard of care exhibits poor uptake in skeletal muscles, limiting its clinical efficacy. Furthermore, it is unclear how the specific cellular processing steps of GAA after delivery to lysosomes impact its efficacy. GAA undergoes both proteolytic cleavage and glycan trimming within the endolysosomal pathway, yielding an enzyme that is more efficient in hydrolyzing its natural substrate, glycogen. Here, we developed a tool kit of modified rhGAAs that allowed us to dissect the individual contributions of glycan trimming and proteolysis on maturation-associated increases in glycogen hydrolysis using in vitro and in cellulo enzyme processing, glycopeptide analysis by MS, and high-pH anion-exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection for enzyme kinetics. Chemical modifications of terminal sialic acids on N-glycans blocked sialidase activity in vitro and in cellulo, thereby preventing downstream glycan trimming without affecting proteolysis. This sialidase-resistant rhGAA displayed only partial activation after endolysosomal processing, as evidenced by reduced catalytic efficiency. We also generated enzymatically deglycosylated rhGAA that was shown to be partially activated despite not undergoing proteolytic processing. Taken together, these data suggest that an optimal rhGAA ERT would require both N-glycan and proteolytic processing to attain the most efficient enzyme for glycogen hydrolysis and treatment of Pompe disease. Future studies should examine the amenability of next-generation ERTs to both types of cellular processing.

In this work, a Genedata Expressionist peptide mapping workflow and a user-defined glycan library — consisting of oligomannose, hybrid, and biantennary complex-type N-glycans previously reported for human GAA — were used to identify glycopeptides in a trypsin/Lys-C digest.