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The emerging functional versatility of cellular glycans makes research on the design of synthetic inhibitors a timely topic. In detail, the combination of ligand (or headgroup or contact site) structure with spatial parameters that depend on topological and geometrical factors underlies the physiological selectivity of glycan-protein (lectin) recognition. We herein tested a panel of bi-, tri- and tetravalent compounds against two plant agglutinins and adhesion/growth-regulatory lectins (galectins). In addition, we examined the impact of headgroup tailoring (converting lactose to 2′-fucosyllactose) in combination with valency increase in two assay types of increasing biorelevance (from solid-phase binding to cell binding). Compounds were prepared using copper-catalysed azide alkyne cycloaddition from peracetylated lactosyl or 2′-fucosyllactosyl azides. Significant inhibition was achieved for the plant toxin with a tetravalent compound. Different levels of sensitivity were noted for the three groups of the galectin family. The headgroup extension to 2′-fucosyllactose led to a selectivity gain, especially for the chimera-type galectin-3. Valency increase established discrimination against the homodimeric proteins, whereas the combination of valency with the headgroup extension led to discrimination against the tandem-repeat-type galectin-8 for chicken galectins but not human galectins-3 and -4. Thus, detailed structure–activity profiling of glycoclusters combined with suitably modifying the contact site for the targeted lectin will help minimize cross-reactivity among this class of closely related proteins.
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Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry
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