Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Biomacromolecules. 2005 Sep-Oct;6(5):2822-32.

Structural characterization of a serendipitously discovered bioactive macromolecule, lignin sulfate.

Author information

Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23298-0540, USA.


The herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) utilizes cell-surface glycosaminoglycan, heparan sulfate, to gain entry into cells and cause infection. In a search for synthetic mimics of heparan sulfate to prevent HSV infection, we discovered potent inhibitory activity arising from sulfation of a monomeric flavonoid. Yet, detailed screening indicated that the sulfated flavonoid was completely inactive and the potent inhibitory activity arose from a macromolecular substance present in the parent flavonoid. The active principle was identified through a battery of biophysical and chemical analyses as a sulfated form of lignin, a three-dimensional network polymer composed of substituted phenylpropanoid monomers. Mass spectral analysis of the parent lignin and its sulfated derivative indicates the presence of p-coumaryl monomers interconnected through uncondensed beta-O-4-linkages. Elemental analysis of lignin sulfate correlates primarily with a polymer of p-coumaryl alcohol containing one sulfate group. High-performance size exclusion chromatography shows a wide molecular weight distribution from 1.5 to 40 kDa suggesting significant polydispersity. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) analysis indicates a highly networked polymer that differs significantly from linear charged polymers with respect to its electrophoretic mobility. Overall, macromolecular lignin sulfate presents a multitude of substructures that can interact with biomolecules, including viral glycoproteins, using hydrophobic, hydrogen-bonding, and ionic forces. Thus, lignin sulfate represents a large number of interesting structures with potential medicinal benefits.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for American Chemical Society
    Loading ...
    Support Center