Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Sugar synthesis hits the sweet spot

Novel tuberculosis treatments could result from success in artificially synthesizing sugar-based structures of the bacterium’s cell wall

A new strategy for synthesizing the kind of complex molecules that certain bacteria use to build their protective cell walls has been developed by Akihiro Ishiwata and Yukishige Ito from the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Wako[1]. The strategy applies to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB), so it could lead to much-needed new medicines to combat the spread of multi-drug-resistant strains of the pathogen.

Disrupting the formation of the cell wall of M. tuberculosis is already a proven strategy for treating TB, with several of the current front-line drugs working in this way. However, the cell wall skeleton is a complex, highly branched structure, and its biosynthesis is not yet fully understood.

According to Ito, the compound he and Ishiwata made—a sugar-based structure known as the arabinan motif (Araf22) — should be a useful biological probe, helping to unravel cell wall biosynthesis. Perhaps more importantly, however, the success of their strategy suggests that larger, more complex cell wall components could be made in the same way.

Sugar-based compounds are notoriously difficult to make. Sugars are bristling with reactive alcohol groups, so molecules made from more than 20 sugar units pose a significant synthetic challenge. Nevertheless, Ishiwata and Ito succeeded in clipping together the branching chain of 22 sugar units needed to make Araf22.

Their strategy involved synthesizing small sub-structures of the mycobacterial cell wall skeleton and building from there. To make the compound, they conceptually broke down Araf22’s structure into several simpler fragments, chemically synthesized those fragments, and then clipped them together to make Araf22. This aspect of the strategy has been applied before, but Ishiwata and Ito built the fragments such that they clipped together at linear rather than branching points in their structure.

The researchers’ strategy makes the individual fragments more difficult to build, but it makes the coupling process much more efficient. Crucially, that means the strategy should work just as well as a way to make even larger and more complex components of the cell wall.

“One of the main points of this work is for us to show the way to construct the more complex compounds,” says Ishiwata. “We are now planning to synthesize more complex but structurally reliable glycans of cell wall skeletons for biological studies.” However, such compounds could even prove to be useful drugs in themselves, if they are able to disrupt the cellular machinery responsible for mycobacterial cell wall biosynthesis.

The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Synthetic Cellular Chemistry Laboratory, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute

Journal information

[1] Ishiwata A. & Ito Y. Synthesis of docosasaccharide arabinan motif of mycobacterial cell wall. Journal of the American Chemical Society 133, 2275–2291 (2011).

gro-pr | Research asia research news

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht When fat cells change their colour
28.10.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>