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Biochem Cell Biol. 2008 Apr;86(2):169-77. doi: 10.1139/O07-149.

Teaching old enzymes new tricks: engineering and evolution of glycosidases and glycosyl transferases for improved glycoside synthesis.

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Department of Chemistry, University of British Columbia, 2036 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T1Z1, Canada.


The therapeutic potential of glycosides has made them an attractive target for drug development. The biological extraction and chemical synthesis of these molecules is often challenging and low yielding, thus alternative methods for the synthesis of polysaccharides are being pursued. A new class of enzymes, glycosynthases, which are nucleophile mutants of glycosidases, can perform the transglycosylation reaction without hydrolyzing the product, and thus provide a valuable resource for polysaccharide and glycan synthesis. Directed evolution of glycosynthases has expanded the repertoire of glycosidic linkages formed and the donors and acceptors (both sugar and nonsugar) that can be used by the glycosynthase. The application of new screening methods, such as FACS, to the directed evolution of glycosynthases will aid in the development of enzymes that are able to efficiently synthesize new, and therapeutically relevant glycosidic linkages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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