Get access

Glycosyltransferases and their Assays



Glycosyltransferases (GTs) are a large family of enzymes that are essential in all domains of life for the biosynthesis of complex carbohydrates and glycoconjugates. GTs catalyse the transfer of a sugar from a glycosyl donor to a variety of acceptor molecules, for example, oligosaccharides, peptides, lipids or small molecules. Such glycosylation reactions are central to many fundamental biological processes, including cellular adhesion, cell signalling and bacterial- and plant-cell-wall biosynthesis. GTs are therefore of significant interest as molecular targets in chemical biology and drug discovery. In addition, GTs have found wide application as synthetic tools for the preparation of complex carbohydrates and glycoconjugates. In order to exploit the potential of GTs both as molecular targets and synthetic tools, robust and operationally simple bioassays are essential, especially as more and more protein sequences with putative GT activity but unknown biochemical function are being identified. In this minireview, we give a brief introduction to GT biochemistry and biology. We outline the relevance of GTs for medicinal chemistry and chemical biology, and describe selected examples for recently developed GT bioassays, with a particular emphasis on fluorescence-based formats.