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Glycopeptides are peptides that contain carbohydrate moieties (glycans) covalently attached to the side chains of the amino acid residues that constitute the peptide.
Over the past few decades it has been recognised that glycans on cell surface (attached to membrane proteins or lipids) and those bound to proteins (glycoproteins) play a critical role in biology. For example these constructs have been showed to play important roles in fertilization, the immune system, brain development, the endocrine system and inflammation. The synthesis of glycopeptides provides biological probes for researchers to elucidate glycan function in nature and products that have useful therapeutic and biotechnological applications.
N-linked glycans derive their name from the fact that the glycan is attached to an asparagine (Asn, N) residue, and are amongst the most common linkages found in nature. Although the majority of N-linked glycans take the form GlcNAc-β-Asn other less common structural linkages such as GlcNac-α-Asn and Glc-Asn have been observed. In addition to their function in protein folding and cellular attachment, the N-liked glycans of a protein can modulate the protein’s function, in some cases acting as an on-off switch