Carbohydrate-Protein Interactions and Their Biosensing Applications

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Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry


Carbohydrate recognition is clearly present throughout nature, playing a major role in the initial attachment of one biological entity to another. The important question is whether these prevalent interactions could provide a real suitable alternative to the use of antibodies or nucleic acid for detection and identification. Currently, examples of carbohydrates being employed in biological detection systems are limited. The challenges of using carbohydrate recognition for detection mainly come from the weak affinity of carbohydrate–protein interactions, the lack of versatile carbohydrate scaffolds with well-defined structures, and the less developed high-information-content, real-time, and label-free assay technology. In this review, we focus on discussing the characteristics of carbohydrate–protein interactions in nature and the methods for carbohydrate immobilization based on surface coupling chemistry in terms of their general applicability for developing carbohydrate- and lectin-based label-free sensors. Furthermore, examples of innovative design of multivalent carbohydrate–protein interactions for sensor applications are given. We limit our review to show the feasibility of carbohydrate and lectin as recognition elements for label-free sensor development in several representative cases to formulate a flexible platform for their use as recognition elements for real-world biosensor applications.


X. Zeng would like to thank the NIH for partial support (grant R21/R33EB000672). X.-L. Sun thanks the Ohio Research Scholars Program for partial support. Drs. Andrade and Oliveira are grateful for the support provided by the Rede de Nanobiotecnologia/ CAPES and FACEPE.