Oxyamine Linkers for the Protecting Group Free Synthesis of Glycoconjugates
Glycoconjugates, such as glycolipids and glycoproteins, are involved in a variety of cellular functions including cell-to-cell signalling and carbohydrate-protein recognition. Accordingly, glycoconjugates play important roles in health and disease and are promising new leads as carbohydrate-based therapeutics. However, for the development of glycoconjugates to study biological processes, or for the use of these adducts as therapeutics, the glycan needs to be conjugated to the carrier molecule or scaffold of choice. Many procedures for the conjugation of glycans involve lengthy protecting group strategies that install the aglycone at the start of glycan total synthesis and are therefore unsuitable for naturally derived sugars. Other glycan conjugation strategies can affect the integrity of the reducing end sugar or lead to adducts where the reducing end sugar adopts the ring-opened rather than the ring-closed form. N,O-Dialkyl oxyamine linkers, however, can be attached to the free reducing end of sugars in a single step without the need for protecting groups. This thesis therefore explores the synthesis and application of oxyamine linkers for the synthesis of glycoconjugates. First, the synthesis of an O-alkyl-N-methyl oxyamine linker (“Type A”) containing an amine at its terminus was improved by reducing the number of synthetic steps from six to four and by increasing the overall yield from 8% to 38%. This oxyamine linker was then conjugated to GlcNAc in 83% yield. The hydrolytic stability of this glycosyloxyamine was then compared to that of the analogous N-alkyl-O-methyl glycosyloxyamine (“Type B”). The stability of the two types of glycosyloxyamines has never been directly compared. Accordingly, it was not known whether the difference in substitution pattern between the two linkers affects their hydrolytic stability. To this end, the hydrolysis rates of the GlcNAc conjugated linkers were assessed at various pH values, glycoconjugate concentrations and buffer concentrations. In all instances, the “Type B” glycoside was found to have marginally better kinetic stability, while the “Type A” glycoside had marginally better thermodynamic stability, but overall, these differences were negligible. The pKa of the conjugate acid of these glycosyloxyamines was also determined to provide insight into the mechanism of hydrolysis. By considering this data, along with the observation that the rate of hydrolysis of these glycoconjugates increases with increasing buffer concentration, it was proposed that the hydrolysis of the oxyamines occurs via general acid catalysis at pH 4-6. A novel dithiol functionalised oxyamine linker was also designed and synthesised for the multivalent display of glycans on gold nanoparticles. With the successful attachment of this thiol linker to GlcNAc, the monomer unit of chitin, this work has paved the way for the future syntheses of chitin-functionalised gold nanoparticles. Such chitinfunctionalised AuNPs can be used to assess chitin’s ability to invoke the asthma allergic immune response, thereby bringing the possibility of an anti-asthma vaccine a step closer to fruition.