Biases and complex patterns in the residues flanking protein N-glycosylation sites Academic Article uri icon


  • N-Glycosylation, the most common and most versatile protein modification reaction, occurs at the beta-amide of the aspargine of the Asn-Xaa-Ser/Thr sequon. For reasons that are unclear, not all such sequons are glycosylated. To find patterns that affect glycosylation, we examined the amino acid residues from the 20th preceding the sequon to the 20th residue following it, using bioinformatics tools. A clean data set of annotated, experimentally verified, glycosylated and nonglycosylated sequons derived from 617 well-defined nonredundant N- and N-,O-glycoproteins listed in SWISS-PROT (June 2002) was used. NXS and NXT sequons were analyzed separately. Although no overt patterns were found to explain sequon occupancy or nonoccupancy, trends for over- or underrepresentation of certain amino acids at particular positions were statistically significant and different in NXS and NXT sequons. In extension of earlier reports, none of the 80 Asn-Pro-Ser/Thr found were glycosylated, and a markedly low level of glycosylation was seen in sequons with Pro at the position following the Ser/Thr. In addition, a general observation was made that the considerable number of glycosylated sequons in the C-terminal 10 residues of glycoproteins suggests that N-glycosylation in these cases may be posttranslational and not cotranslational, as widely accepted.

publication date

  • January 1, 2003