Research Topics

  From Genes to Glycoconjugates L. & F. Biomaterialien

"We are dedicated to Glycobiotechnology"

Glycans are considered as „Future Target Molecules in Biomedicine, Pharmacy, Cosmetics, Nutrition“

Complex oligosaccharides are building blocks of glycoconjugates, e.g. glycoproteins, glycolipids, hormones and antibiotics. Many oligosaccharide structures are characterized as "multifunctional information carriers" and mediate specific molecular recognition events or modulate certain biological processes. They play a vital active role in inter- and intracellular communication. The functional diversity of glycoconjugates promises many diagnostic and therapeutic applications. In this context the long-term aim of our research projects is the synthesis of biologically relevant carbohydrate structures by defined enzyme systems, to characterize their binding properties to lectins (glycan binding proteins), and to propagate them for applications in biomaterial and biomedical research. In this context, we focus on glycoconjugates and neo-glycoconjugates for specific and selective binding of lectins such as human galectins and bacterial toxins.

In order to provide such complex compounds for biomedical studies efficient synthesis strategies have to be developed. A great challenge is still the synthesis of the "glyco"-moiety of such glycoconjugates. “Retro-synthetic biocatalysis” includes glycosidases/glycosynthases and Leloir-glycosyltransferases as catalytic tools with great potentials. Glycosyltransferases are highly stereo- and regioselective; however, they need activated sugars (nucleotide sugars) as donor substrates. A profound biochemical characterization of glycosyltransferases and the biosynthetic pathways of nucleotide (deoxy)sugars is needed for cascade reactions in combinatorial biocatalysis. The long term goal is the “Golgi Glycan Factory”, where the combination of multi-enzyme modules set up assembly lines for the synthesis of natural and modified glycoconjugates.

For reviews on our research topics refer to the our publications [L.Elling (1997), T. Bülter et. al (1997), A. Zervosen & L. Elling (1999), T. Bülter & L. Elling (1999), L. Elling (1999), C. Rupprath et. al (2005), L. Elling (2007), B. Sauerzapfe & L. Elling (2008), C. Römer & l. Elling (2011), L. Engels & L. Elling (2011), P. Borjarova et. al (2013)].

Research Topics

Our research projects are supported by funds from the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Federal Ministery of Education and Research (BMBF), the European Union (COST Action), the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU), and the excellence initiative of the German federal and state governments through ERS@RWTH Aachen University.