Special Reviews

Chemical Glycobiology

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Science  23 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5512, pp. 2357-2364
DOI: 10.1126/science.1059820

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Chemical tools have proven indispensable for studies in glycobiology. Synthetic oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates provide materials for correlating structure with function. Synthetic mimics of the complex assemblies found on cell surfaces can modulate cellular interactions and are under development as therapeutic agents. Small molecule inhibitors of carbohydrate biosynthetic and processing enzymes can block the assembly of specific oligosaccharide structures. Inhibitors of carbohydrate recognition and biosynthesis can reveal the biological functions of the carbohydrate epitope and its cognate receptors. Carbohydrate biosynthetic pathways are often amenable to interception with synthetic unnatural substrates. Such metabolic interference can block the expression of oligosaccharides or alter the structures of the sugars presented on cells. Collectively, these chemical approaches are contributing great insight into the myriad biological functions of oligosaccharides.

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