Chemical and Enzymatic Synthesis of Glycans and Glycoconjugates

In: Essentials of Glycobiology. 2nd edition. Cold Spring Harbor (NY): Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 2009. Chapter 49.


Pure glycans of defined structure are essential research tools in glycobiology. Unlike proteins and nucleic acids, which can be obtained in homogeneous forms using biological methods such as recombinant expression and polymerase chain reaction (PCR), glycans produced in biological systems are heterogeneous. Furthermore, the quantities that can be obtained from biological systems are rather small. Chemical synthesis can be used to obtain homogeneous glycans in larger quantities than are available from most cellular production systems. Enzymes can be used together with chemical methods to further simplify the process of glycan synthesis. Chemical synthesis can be further employed to incorporate glycans into homogeneous glycoproteins. This chapter summarizes the chemical and enzymatic synthetic methods to produce glycans and glycoproteins.

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