Chemoenzymatic synthesis of sulfur-linked sugar polymers as heparanase inhibitors

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He P., Zhang X., Xia K., Green D. E., BAYTAŞ S., Xu Y., ...More

Nature Communications, vol.13, no.1, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 13 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/s41467-022-34788-3
  • Journal Name: Nature Communications
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, EMBASE, Geobase, INSPEC, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


© 2022, The Author(s).Complex carbohydrates (glycans) are major players in all organisms due to their structural, energy, and communication roles. This last essential role involves interacting and/or signaling through a plethora of glycan-binding proteins. The design and synthesis of glycans as potential drug candidates that selectively alter or perturb metabolic processes is challenging. Here we describe the first reported sulfur-linked polysaccharides with potentially altered conformational state(s) that are recalcitrant to digestion by heparanase, an enzyme important in human health and disease. An artificial sugar donor with a sulfhydryl functionality is synthesized and enzymatically incorporated into polysaccharide chains utilizing heparosan synthase. Used alone, this donor adds a single thio-sugar onto the termini of nascent chains. Surprisingly, in chain co-polymerization reactions with a second donor, this thiol-terminated heparosan also serves as an acceptor to form an unnatural thio-glycosidic bond (‘S-link’) between sugar residues in place of a natural ‘O-linked’ bond. S-linked heparan sulfate analogs are not cleaved by human heparanase. Furthermore, the analogs act as competitive inhibitors with > ~200-fold higher potency than expected; as a rationale, molecular dynamic simulations suggest that the S-link polymer conformations mimic aspects of the transition state. Our analogs form the basis for future cancer therapeutics and modulators of protein/sugar interactions.