Fluorogenic sialic acid glycosides for quantification of sialidase activity upon unnatural substrates

Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2013 Jun 1;23(11):3406-10. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2013.03.076. Epub 2013 Apr 10.


Herein we report the synthesis of N-acetyl neuraminic acid derivatives as 4-methylumbelliferyl glycosides and their use in fluorometrically quantifying human and bacterial sialidase activity and substrate specificities. We found that sialidases in the human promyelocytic leukemic cell line HL60 were able to cleave sialic acid substrates with fluorinated C-5 modifications, in some cases to a greater degree than the natural N-acetyl functionality. Human sialidases isoforms were also able to cleave unnatural substrates with bulky and hydrophobic C-5 modifications. In contrast, we found that a bacterial sialidase isolated from Clostridium perfringens to be less tolerant of sialic acid derivatization at this position, with virtually no cleavage of these glycosides observed. From our results, we conclude that human sialidase activity is a significant factor in sialic acid metabolic glycoengineering efforts utilizing unnatural sialic acid derivatives. Our fluorogenic probes have enabled further understanding of the activities and substrate specificities of human sialidases in a cellular context.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Clostridium perfringens / enzymology
  • Fluorometry*
  • Glycosides / metabolism*
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / chemistry*
  • Neuraminidase / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Glycosides
  • NEU1 protein, human
  • NEU2 protein, human
  • Neu3 protein, human
  • Neuraminidase
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid