STT3, a highly conserved protein required for yeast oligosaccharyl transferase activity in vivo
N-linked glycosylation is a ubiquitous protein modification, and is essential for viability in eukaryotic cells. A lipid-linked core-oligosaccharide is assembled at the membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum and transferred to selected asparagine residues of nascent polypeptide chains by the oligosaccharyl transferase (OTase) complex. Based on the synthetic lethal phenotype of double mutations affecting the assembly of the lipid-linked core-oligosaccharide and the OTase activity, we have performed a novel screen for mutants in Saccharomyces cerevisiae with altered N-linked glycosylation. Besides novel mutants deficient in the assembly of the lipid-linked oligosaccharide (alg mutants), we identified the STT3 locus as being required for OTase activity in vivo. The essential STT3 protein is approximately 60% identical in amino acid sequence to its human homologue. A mutation in the STT3 locus affects substrate specificity of the OTase complex in vivo and in vitro. In stt3-3 cells very little glycosyl transfer occurs from incomplete lipid-linked oligosaccharide, whereas the transfer of full-length Glc3Man9GlcNAc2 is hardly affected as compared with wild-type cells. Depletion of the STT3 protein results in loss of transferase activity in vivo and a deficiency in the assembly of OTase complex.