PRESS RELEASE FOR NATURE METHODS
For papers that will be published online on 21 November 2005
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An easier way to sugar-coat your research
A simplified strategy for modifying complex sugar molecules, described in
the November issue of Nature Methods, could dramatically increase the ease
and speed with which scientists tackle important issues relating to tumor
detection and the pathology of infectious diseases.
Just like clothes make the man, what a protein wears can dramatically alter
how it is recognized. Many proteins, particularly those at the surface of
cells, have their appearance sweetened by the addition of elaborate sugars.
Among other things, these sugars can play an important role in communication
between cells, serve as docking pads for bacteria or viruses, or provide
clinically useful markers for cancer detection.
From this, the relatively new-but rapidly growing-field of glycomics has
emerged, exploring which proteins are modified with which sugars, and what
the implications of those modifications are. This often involves
synthesizing different sugars and examining how they interact with different
proteins. Unfortunately, this is a tedious and demanding process, limiting
the efficiency and scale of glycomic experiments.
In their latest work, Richard D. Cummings and colleagues describe a highly
efficient chemical process for the rapid generation of modifiable sugar
molecules. Sugars prepared by this process are linked with a fluorescent
molecule that makes them easier to work with and detect, and they can
readily be assembled onto arrays for high-throughput analysis. This strategy
is suitable for use with a broad variety of naturally occuring and
commercially available sugars, and the authors believe that their approach
should provide greater flexibility and efficiency for glycomics researchers,
and make high-throughput functional studies easier and more informative.
Richard D. Cummings (University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma
City, OK, USA)
Tel: +1 405 271 2481; Email: [email protected]
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