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Small. 2008 Oct;4(10):1728-40. doi: 10.1002/smll.200701215.

Recombinant glycans on an S-layer self-assembly protein: a new dimension for nanopatterned biomaterials.

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University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Center for NanoBiotechnology, Gregor-Mendel-Strasse 33, A-1180 Wien, Austria.


Crucial biological phenomena are mediated through carbohydrates that are displayed in a defined manner and interact with molecular scale precision. We lay the groundwork for the integration of recombinant carbohydrates into a "biomolecular construction kit" for the design of new biomaterials, by utilizing the self-assembly system of the crystalline cell surface (S)-layer protein SgsE of Geobacillus stearothermophilus NRS 2004/3a. SgsE is a naturally O-glycosylated protein, with intrinsic properties that allow it to function as a nanopatterned matrix for the periodic display of glycans. By using a combined carbohydrate/protein engineering approach, two types of S-layer neoglycoproteins are produced in Escherichia coli. Based on the identification of a suitable periplasmic targeting system for the SgsE self-assembly protein as a cellular prerequisite for protein glycosylation, and on engineering of one of the natural protein O-glycosylation sites into a target for N-glycosylation, the heptasaccharide from the AcrA protein of Campylobacter jejuni and the O7 polysaccharide of E. coli are co- or post-translationally transferred to the S-layer protein by the action of the oligosaccharyltransferase PglB. The degree of glycosylation of the S-layer neoglycoproteins after purification from the periplasmic fraction reaches completeness. Electron microscopy reveals that recombinant glycosylation is fully compatible with the S-layer protein self-assembly system. Tailor-made ("functional") nanopatterned, self-assembling neoglycoproteins may open up new strategies for influencing and controlling complex biological systems with potential applications in the areas of biomimetics, drug targeting, vaccine design, or diagnostics.

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