In order to generate substantial amounts of neoglycoconjugate needed for commercialization of diagnostic kits and high-throughput detection of leprosy, we developed a facile and high-yield synthesis of the corresponding disaccharide. Herein, the non-reducing disaccharide segment of phenolic glycolipid I from Mycobacterium leprae, O-(3,6-di-O-methyl-beta-D-glucopyranosyl)-(1-->4)-O-2,3-di-O-methyl-alpha-L-rhamnopyranose was synthesized by an improved procedure. The disaccharide was efficiently conjugated to bovine/human serum albumin, via acyl-azide intermediate, to form natural disaccharide-BSA/HSA neoglycoproteins that showed a high activity in serodiagnosis of leprosy. The disaccharide incorporated into the proteins was accurately measured by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. The serological activities of the neoglycoproteins against pooled human lepromatous leprosy sera were measured by ELISA and they were detectable at picogram amounts.
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