A human cDNA encoding a novel galactosyltransferase was identified based on BLAST analysis of expressed sequence tags, and the cDNA clones were isolated, showing a type II membrane protein with 327 amino acids and 38% homology to the Caenorhabditis elegans sqv-3
gene involved in vulval invagination and oocyte development. This cDNA exhibited marked galactosyltransferase activity specific for p-nitrophenyl-beta-D-xylopyranoside, and also restored glycosaminoglycan (GAG) synthesis to galactosyltransferase I-deficient CHO mutant pgsB-761 cells. The enzyme product contained beta-1
,4-linked galactosyl residues, indicating that the enzyme is galactosyltransferase I (UDP-D-galactose: D-xylose beta-1
,4-D-galactosyltransferase; EC 188.8.131.52) involved in the synthesis of the GAG-protein linkage region of proteoglycans. Mutations of this gene were investigated in a case of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (progeroid variant), since reduced activity of galactosyltransferase I had been reported in this disease by others. As expected, the patient gene contained two different mutations (A186D, L206P). The mutations showed, respectively, 10-50% and 0% of the enzyme activity compared with wild type, suggesting that galactosytransferase I (XGal-T1) is at least one of the genes responsible for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (progeroid variant).