Sweetness and light: design and applications of photo-responsive glycoconjugates
Carbohydrate–protein binding is a supramolecular recognition process that underpins myriad biological events. However, the precise conformational and configurational requirements for biomolecular recognition are often poorly understood, since such phenomena often occur in a strongly spatiotemporal manner. Photoswitchable glycoconjugates have emerged as promising investigational tools for probing carbohydrate–protein recognition and for controlling bacterial adhesion. Reversible photoisomerisation, in particular that of azobenzene glycoconjugates, has also been exploited as a promising strategy for controlling supramolecular self-assembly and macroscopic properties, thereby facilitating the development of light responsive carbohydrate-based materials. The following review will highlight the recent advances in the design and applications of photoswitchable glycoconjugates, paying particular attention to the application of light as a stimulus for modulating protein and cellular adhesion, amphiphilicity and supramolecular assembly of carbohydrate-based materials.