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Covalent attachment of the plant natural product naringenin to small glass and ceramic beads

Yuhua Lu, Niloufer G Irani and Erich Grotewold*

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Department of Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology and Plant Biotechnology Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Chemical Biology 2005, 5:3  doi:10.1186/1472-6769-5-3

Published: 10 October 2005



Natural products have numerous medicinal applications and play important roles in the biology of the organisms that accumulate them. Few methods are currently available for identifying proteins that bind to small molecules, therefore the discovery of cellular targets for natural products with pharmacological activity continues to pose a significant challenge in drug validation. Similarly, the identification of enzymes that participate in the biosynthesis or modification of natural products remains a formidable bottleneck for metabolic engineering. Flavonoids are one large group of natural products with a diverse number of functions in plants and in human health. The coupling of flavonoids to small ceramic and glass beads provides a first step in the development of high-throughput, solid-support base approaches to screen complex libraries to identify proteins that bind natural products.


The utilization of small glass and ceramic beads as solid supports for the coupling of small molecules was explored. Initial characterization of the beads indicated uniform and high capacity loading of amino groups. Once the beads were deemed adequate for the linking of small molecules by the coupling of NHS-fluorescein followed by microscopy, chemical hydrolysis and fluorometry, the flavonoid naringenin was modified with 1,4-dibromobutane, followed by the attachment of aminopropyltriethoxysilane. After NMR structural confirmation, the resulting 7-(4-(3-(triethoxysilyl)propylamino)butoxy) naringenin was attached to the ceramic beads.


Our results demonstrate that ceramic and glass beads provide convenient solid supports for the efficient and facile coupling of small molecules. We succeeded in generating naringenin-coupled ceramic and glass beads. We also developed a convenient series of steps that can be applied for the solid-support coupling of other related flavonoids. The availability of solid-support coupled naringenin opens up new opportunities for the identification of flavonoid-binding proteins.