Mannosidase mechanism: at the intersection of conformation and catalysis

Carme Rovira, Alexandra Males, Gideon J Davies, Spencer J Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Mannosidases are a diverse group of enzymes that are important in the biological processing of mannose-containing polysaccharides and complex glycoconjugates. They are found in 12 of the >160 sequence-based glycosidase families. We discuss evidence that nature has evolved a small set of common mechanisms that unite almost all of these mannosidase families. Broadly, mannosidases (and the closely related rhamnosidases) perform catalysis through just two conformations of the oxocarbenium ion-like transition state: a B2,5 (or enantiomeric 2,5B) boat and a 3H4 half-chair. This extends to a new family (GT108) of GDPMan-dependent β-1,2-mannosyltransferases/phosphorylases that perform mannosyl transfer through a boat conformation as well as some mannosidases that are metalloenzymes and require divalent cations for catalysis. Yet, among this commonality lies diversity. New evidence shows that one unique family (GH99) of mannosidases use an unusual mechanism involving anchimeric assistance via a 1,2-anhydro sugar (epoxide) intermediate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-92
Number of pages14
Early online date28 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

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