Sialic Acid Glycoengineering Using an Unnatural Sialic Acid for the Detection of Sialoglycan Biosynthesis Defects and On-Cell Synthesis of Siglec Ligands

Christian Bull, Torben Heise, Danielle M. H. Beurskens, Moniek Riemersma, Angel Ashikov, Floris P. J. T. Rutjes, Toin H. van Kuppevelt, Dirk J. Lefeber, Martijn H. den Brok, Gosse J. Adema*, Thomas J. Boltje

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Web of Science)


Sialoglycans play a vital role in physiology, and aberrant sialoglycan expression is associated with a broad spectrum of diseases. Since biosynthesis of sialoglycans is only partially regulated at the genetic level, chemical tools are crucial to study their function. Here, we report the development of propargyloxycarbonyl sialic acid (Ac5NeuNPoc) as a powerful tool for sialic acid glycoengineering. Ac5NeuNPoc showed strongly increased labeling efficiency and exhibited less toxicity compared to those of widely used mannosamine analogues in vitro and was also more efficiently incorporated into sialoglycans in vivo. Unlike mannosamine analogues, Ac5NeuNPoc was exclusively utilized in the sialoglycan biosynthesis pathway, allowing a genetic defect in sialic acid biosynthesis to be specifically detected. Furthermore, Ac5NeuNPoc-based sialic acid glycoengineering enabled the on-cell synthesis of high-affinity Siglec-7 ligands and the identification of a novel Siglec-2 ligand. Thus, Ac5NeuNPoc glycoengineering is a highly efficient, nontoxic, and selective approach to study and modulate sialoglycan interactions on living cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2353-2363
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

Cite this