This review discusses new directions in the emerging field of carbohydrate engineering. Specifically, it describes substrate-based methodologies that are complementary to the recombinant DNA techniques that now dominate metabolic and cellular engineering endeavors. A substrate-based approach consists of intercepting a biosynthetic pathway with an unnatural analog of a metabolic intermediate. The unnatural compound competes with the endogenous substrate for biosynthetic incorporation into a cellular component by action of the natural enzymes of the cell. The incorporation of the unnatural compound into the cellular architecture can directly modulate cellular properties and biological processes. Alternatively, a molecular handle can be included in the design of the unnatural substrate that allows further elaboration upon reaction with an externally delivered reagent. The sialic acid biosynthetic pathway is presented as a model system to illustrate both the practical aspects and theoretical considerations of a substrate-based cellular engineering approach. Specific applications of carbohydrate-based cell surface engineering include chemical construction of new glycosylation patterns on cells, new approaches to targeting tumor cell with either diagnostic or therapeutic agents, and installation of novel receptors on cells for facilitating viral-mediated gene delivery.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)