Progress in biomimetic carbohydrate recognition

D. Barney Walker, Gururaj Joshi, Anthony P. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

107 Citations (Scopus)


The importance of carbohydrate recognition in biology, and the unusual challenges involved, have lead to great interest in mimicking saccharide-binding proteins such as lectins. In this review, we discuss the design of artificial carbohydrate receptors, focusing on those which work under natural (i.e. aqueous) conditions. The problem is intrinsically difficult because of the similarity between substrate (carbohydrate) and solvent (water) and, accordingly, progress has been slow. However, recent developments suggest that solutions can be found. In particular, the "temple" family of carbohydrate receptors show good affinities and excellent selectivities for certain all-equatorial substrates. One example is selective for O-linked beta-N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc, as in the O-GlcNAc protein modification), while another is specific for beta-cellobiosyl and closely related disaccharides. Both show roughly millimolar affinities, matching the strength of some lectin-carbohydrate interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3177-3191
Number of pages15
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

Structured keywords

  • Bristol BioDesign Institute




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