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Pure Appl. Chem., 2013, Vol. 85, No. 9, pp. 1759-1770

Published online 2013-05-07

Glycan synthesis, structure, and dynamics: A selection

Robert Pendrill, K. Hanna M. Jonsson and Göran Widmalm*

Department of Organic Chemistry, Arrhenius Laboratory, Stockholm University, SE‑106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Glycan structural information is a prerequisite for elucidation of carbohydrate function in biological systems. To this end we employ a tripod approach for investigation of carbohydrate 3D structure and dynamics based on organic synthesis; different experimental spectroscopy techniques, NMR being of prime importance; and molecular simulations using, in particular, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. The synthesis of oligosaccharides in the form of glucosyl fluorides is described, and their use as substrates for the Lam16A E115S glucosyl synthase is exemplified as well as a conformational analysis of a cyclic β-(1→3)-heptaglucan based on molecular simulations. The flexibility of the N-acetyl group of aminosugars is by MD simulations indicated to function as a gatekeeper for transitions of glycosidic torsion angles to other regions of conformational space. A novel approach to visualize glycoprotein (GP) structures is presented in which the protein is shown by, for example, ribbons, but instead of stick or space-filling models for the carbohydrate portion it is visualized by the colored geometrical figures known as CFG representation in a 3D way, which we denote 3D-CFG, thereby effectively highlighting the sugar residues of the glycan part of the GP and the position(s) on the protein.