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Carbohydr Res. 2007 Sep 3;342(12-13):1581-94. Epub 2007 Jun 16.

In vitro synthesis of artificial polysaccharides by glycosidases and glycosynthases.

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Laboratory of Biochemistry, Institut Químic de Sarrià, Universitat Ramon Llull, Via Augusta 390, 08017 Barcelona, Spain.


Artificial polysaccharides produced by in vitro enzymatic synthesis are new biomaterials with defined structures that either mimic natural polysaccharides or have unnatural structures and functionalities. This review summarizes recent developments in the in vitro polysaccharide synthesis by endo-glycosidases, grouped in two major strategies: (a) native retaining endo-glycosidases under kinetically controlled conditions (transglycosylation with activated glycosyl donors), and (b) glycosynthases, engineered glycosidases devoid of hydrolase activity but with high transglycosylation activity. Polysaccharides are obtained by enzymatic polymerization of simple glycosyl donors by repetitive condensation. This approach not only provides a powerful methodology to produce polysaccharides with defined structures and morphologies as novel biomaterials, but is also a valuable tool to analyze the mechanisms of polymerization and packing to acquire high-order molecular assemblies.

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