2023 年 81 巻 2 号 p. 96-104
Glycans, considered as the third life chain following nucleic acids and proteins, are involved in various biological phenomena, including signal transduction, immune regulation, infection, aging, and cancer. However, the synthesis of glycans with complex and diverse structures has not been established, and thereby, the glycan functions have not been well elucidated at the molecular level. Small glycan fragments, such as monosaccharides and disaccharides, can exhibit biological activities through interactions with their recognition proteins (lectins). On the other hand, complex structures of glycans show emergent functions via multivalent recognition, conformational control and so on. Furthermore, glycans cover the cell surface as a glycocalyx, and form dynamic and flexible interaction networks with various biomolecules to realize complicated regulation of biological phenomena. We have been exploring such higher-order glycan functions by chemical biology approach based on organic synthesis. Namely, we have synthesized complex glycans and glycoconjugates, and these synthesized compounds were utilized for analyzing and regulating glycan functions.