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J Am Chem Soc. 2004 Oct 20;126(41):13343-6.

Detection of bacteria with carbohydrate-functionalized fluorescent polymers.

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  • 1Laboratory for Organic Chemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich, ETH Hönggerberg HCI F315 Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, 8093 Zürich, Switzerland.


Many pathogens that infect humans use cell surface carbohydrates as receptors to facilitate cell-cell adhesion. The hallmark of these interactions is their multivalency, or the simultaneous occurrence of multiple interactions. We have used a carbohydrate-functionalized fluorescent polymer, which displays many carbohydrate ligands on a single polymer chain, to allow for multivalent detection of pathogens. Incubation of a mannose-functionalized polymer with Escherichia coli yields brightly fluorescent aggregates of bacteria. These results show that carbohydrate-functionalized fluorescent polymers are a versatile detection method for bacteria. Future design of detectors for other pathogens only requires information on the carbohydrates bound by the organisms, which has been exhaustively reported in the literature.

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