N-Linked Surface Glycan Biosynthesis, Composition, Inhibition, and Function in Cnidarian-Dinoflagellate Symbiosis

Trevor R. Tivey, John Everett Parkinson, Paige E. Mandelare, Donovon A. Adpressa, Wenjing Peng, Xue Dong, Yehia Mechref, Virginia M. Weis, Sandra Loesgen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The success of symbioses between cnidarian hosts (e.g., corals and sea anemones) and micro-algal symbionts hinges on the molecular interactions that govern the establishment and maintenance of intracellular mutualisms. As a fundamental component of innate immunity, glycan-lectin interactions impact the onset of marine endosymbioses, but our understanding of the effects of cell surface glycome composition on symbiosis establishment remains limited. In this study, we examined the canonical N-glycan biosynthesis pathway in the genome of the dinoflagellate symbiont Breviolum minutum (family Symbiodiniaceae) and found it to be conserved with the exception of the transferase GlcNAc-TII (MGAT2). Using coupled liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), we characterized the cell surface N-glycan content of B. minutum, providing the first insight into the molecular composition of surface glycans in dinoflagellates. We then used the biosynthesis inhibitors kifunensine and swainsonine to alter the glycan composition of B. minutum. Successful high-mannose enrichment via kifunensine treatment resulted in a significant decrease in colonization of the model sea anemone Aiptasia (Exaiptasia pallida) by B. minutum. Hybrid glycan enrichment via swainsonine treatment, however, could not be confirmed and did not impact colonization. We conclude that functional Golgi processing of N-glycans is critical for maintaining appropriate cell surface glycan composition and for ensuring colonization success by B. minutum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-236
Number of pages14
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Aiptasia
  • Biosynthesis
  • Exaiptasia pallida
  • LC/MS
  • N-Linked glycan
  • Recognition
  • Symbiodiniaceae


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