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Current Medicinal Chemistry


ISSN (Print): 0929-8673
ISSN (Online): 1875-533X

Recent Developments on Synthetic Tools Towards Structural and Functional Glycodiversity

Author(s): J. M. Benito and F. Ortega-Caballero

Volume 20 , Issue 32 , 2013

Page: [3986 - 4029] Pages: 44

DOI: 10.2174/09298673113209990209

Price: $65


Despite being the most abundant type of biopolymers in Nature, the biological relevance of carbohydrates has systematically been underrated for decades, associating them far less sophisticated functions (structural or energy sourcing) than those unraveled for polynucleotides and proteins. The inherently large and complex diversity of carbohydrates and glycoconjugates, together with the lack of efficient technologies to either isolate them from natural sources or produce them synthetically in useful amounts, have burdened the appreciation of their utmost importance in the most fundamental biological processes. For these reasons, carbohydrate-mediated transmission of biological information was largely unexplored. However, over the decades, it became clear that the expression of complex carbohydrates is critical in the development of living systems. Nature uses this diverse repertoire of structures as codes in fundamental biological processes such as cellular differentiation, cellular signaling, fertilization or immune response, among many others. The urgency to elucidate the glycan code in terms of structure-function relationships has fuelled chemical biology approaches uncovering new frontiers in molecular biology, for which the term glycobiology had to be coined in the early 1980s’. Novel strategies for assembling oligosaccharides, glycoproteins, glycolipids and a range of glycoconjugates have flourished ever since providing access to glycomaterials for interrogating and interfering glycan function. This account focuses on the major breakthroughs made on the strategies during the last decades to synthetically reproduce the overwhelming glycodiversity, emphasizing on the dazzling array of concepts and techniques which development was required to cope with the task. In the first place, a succinct overview of the structural and functional diversity of biologically relevant saccharides and glycoconjugates will be given. Then, a selection of the most relevant strategies that composes the complex and diversity-oriented toolbox that modern carbohydrate synthesis consists on will be dissected. Finally, a selection of the most recent applications of this synthetic toolbox to chemical biology will be captured.

Keywords: Carbohydrates, carbohydrate-based vaccines, glycan arrays, glycoconjugates, glycodiversity, glycosylation, oligosaccharide synthesis.

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