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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Chemo-enzymatic synthesis and in vitro cytokine profiling of tailor-made oligofructosides

Arne Homann12, Malte Timm1 and Jürgen Seibel1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Organic Chemistry, University of Wuerzburg, Am Hubland, 97074, Wuerzburg, Germany

2 Present address: Research Center Borstel, Parkallee 1-40, 23845, Borstel, Germany

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BMC Biotechnology 2012, 12:90  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-12-90

Published: 26 November 2012



It is well known that carbohydrates play fundamental roles in cell signaling and infection processes as well as tumor formation and progression. However, the interaction pathways and cellular receptors targeted by carbohydrates and glycoconjugates remain poorly examined and understood. This lack of research stems, at least to a major part, from accessibility problems of large, branched oligosaccharides.


To test glycan - cell interactions in vitro, a variety of tailored oligosaccharides was synthesized chemo-enzymatically. Glycosyltransferases from the GRAS organisms Bacillus megaterium (SacB) and Aspergillus niger (Suc1) were used in this study. Substrate engineering of these glycosyltransferases generally acting on sucrose leads to the controlled formation of novel tailored di-, tri- and tetrasaccharides. Already industrially used as prebiotics in functional food, the immunogenic potential of novel oligosaccharides was characterized in this study. A differential secretion of CXCL8 and CCL2 was observed upon oligosaccharide co-cultivation with colorectal epithelial Caco-2 cells.


Pure carbohydrates are able to stimulate a cytokine response in human endothelial cells in vitro. The type and amount of cytokine secretion depends on the type of co-cultivated oligosaccharide.

Oligofructoside; Glycosyltransferase; Suc1; Aspergillus niger; SacB; Bacillus megaterium; CXCL8 (IL-8); CCL2 (MCP-1); Caco-2