Synthesis and Application of Plant Cell Wall Oligogalactans

Mathias Christian Franch Andersen

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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The plant cell walls represent almost 50% of the biomass found in plants and are therefore one of the main targets for biotechnological research. Major motivators are their potential as a renewable energy source for transport fuels, as functional foods, and as a source of raw materials to generate chemical building blocks for industrial processes. To achieve a sustainable development it is necessary to optimize plant production and utilization. This will require a better understanding of the cell wall structure and function at the molecular level.
The cell wall is composed by an intricate network of polysaccharides and proteins that changes during the different developmental stages of the cell. This makes it very challenging to address the function of individual components in living cells. Alternatively, structurally defined oligosaccharides can be used as models for the more complex polysaccharide components in order to investigate a range of properties such as cell wall biosynthesis and protein-carbohydrate interactions. The oligosaccharides can be obtained by chemical or enzymatic degradation of the cell wall. However, although extensive studies have been conducted only a limited range of structures is available and the obtained oligosaccharides require extensive purification. Chemical synthesis, on the other hand, is capable of producing structurally diverse oligosaccharides of excellent purity and in higher quantities.
This thesis presents the chemical synthesis of fragments of galactans and arabinogalactans that are prominent side chains of the pectic polysaccharide rhamnogalacturonan I (RG-I) and the main component of arabinogalactan protein (AGP). In the galactan series, 16 linear or branched β-(1→4)-linked D-galactosides of four to eight residues were prepared by a convergent block strategy. Using a disaccharide donor the number of glycosylations were reduced significantly and late stage regioselective deprotection made it possible to introduce various branches. By the same general strategy, seven linear or branched β-(1→3)-linked- and three linear β-(1→6)-linked D-galactosides were prepared as part of the arabinogalactans series. The fragments were applied in the characterization of a glycosyl transferase, a hydrolase and to study the important cancer biomarker galectin-3. The work done during an external stay at University of Oxford is also presented. This concerns isolation and modification of the carbohydratebased antibiotic, Tunicamycin. A simple and effective method has been developed for chemo-enzymatic synthesis of the partially protected core tunicaminyl lactol. Furthermore, synthesis of several novel muramic acid donors and attempts to glycosylate the tunicaminyl lactol are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment of Chemistry, Technical University of Denmark
Number of pages244
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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