Single Glycoproteins Caught In Motion | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 93 Issue 1 | p. 21 | Concentrates
Issue Date: January 5, 2015

Single Glycoproteins Caught In Motion

Fluorescence-labeling technique could aid understanding of cancer growth
Department: Science & Technology | Collection: Life Sciences
News Channels: Analytical SCENE, Biological SCENE
Keywords: fluorescence, glycoprotein, click chemistry, glycan

Scientists have devised a way to track the movement of single glycoprotein molecules on surfaces of living cancer cells and on microfibrils that connect cells. The work could aid understanding of the role membrane glycans play in cancer growth and spread. Up to now, glycan motions have generally been studied by taking averages of the behavior of many sugar molecules. Peng Wu and Ben Ovryn of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York City, and coworkers now report a fluorescence-based method that visualizes motions of single glycoproteins (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201407976). The approach monitors the fluorescence of dye molecules linked by click chemistry to azide-tagged O-linked glycans or alkyne-tagged N-linked glycans on live metastatic cancer cells. The study reveals that the glycans exhibit “constrained diffusion”—that is, they diffuse only one-third to one-half as fast as those on nonmetastatic cells. Wu, Ovryn, and coworkers also used the approach to take STORM (stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy) images of glycans on membrane microfibrils in live cancer cells.

 
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By attaching fluorescent groups to N- or O-linked glycans, researchers can now monitor the movements of cell-surface glycoproteins on a single-molecule level.
Credit: Adapted from Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.
A reaction scheme showing N-linked and O-linked glycoprotein diffusion.
 
By attaching fluorescent groups to N- or O-linked glycans, researchers can now monitor the movements of cell-surface glycoproteins on a single-molecule level.
Credit: Adapted from Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.
 
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