Date of Award

Fall 11-19-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Binghe Wang


Carbohydrates are known to play important roles in a large number of physiological and pathological processes. Conceivably, “binders” of carbohydrates of biological importance could be used as diagnostic and therapeutic agents. Currently, lectins are the major available tools in research for carbohydrate recognition. However, the available lectins often have cross-reactivity issues, along with the high costs and stability issues. Therefore, there is a critical need to develop alternatives (lectin mimics). In this regard, there have been very active efforts in developing different “binders”, such as small molecule lectinmimics and aptamers. Among all the small molecule lectinbmimics developments, boronic acid stands out as the most important building blocks of the sensors design for carbohydrates biomarkers due to its intrinsic binding affinities with diols. To address a fundamental question that whether boronic acid also binds to six-membered ring sugars, with very limited precedents, we provided a concrete experimental evidence of the binding. Specifically, a series of isoquinolinylboronic acids were found to have remarkably high binding affinities with fluorescence change upon binding to representative sugars. Most importantly, these isoquinolinylboronic aicds showed weak but very encouraging bindings with six-membered sugar model. All these promising results paves the way of using boronic acids, especially isoquinolinylboronic acid as building blocks for chemosensors design for biological carbohydrates biomarkers, which universally contain six-membered ring and liner diols.

Aptamer provides another alternative way for sensors development for carbohydrates biomarkers as lectin mimics. Compared to lectins, they are normally cheaper and more stable. However, there is much less options. Another challenging area for aptamer-based lectin mimics development is the difficulty to differentiate changes in glycosylation patterns of a glycoprotein, which affect the function of a glycoprotein and thus recognized as biomarkers. To address this major challenge, our group first demonstrated that the incorporation of a boronic acid into DNA would allow for the aptamer selection process to gravitate towards the glycosylation site. To examine the generality of boronic acid incorporation, increase the structural diversity, and broaden the application of boronic acid-modified DNA, a series of B-TTP analogues with simplified structures were designed, synthesized, and successfully incorporated into DNA. A simple route was also developed using 1,7-octadiyne as a linker for both Sonogashira coupling with thymidine and CuAAC tethering of a boronic acid moiety. This paves the way for the preparation of a large number of B-TTPs with different structural features for aptamer selection or array analysis.

Finally, bacterial quorum sensing has received much attention in recent years because of its relevance to pathological events such as biofilm formation. As one of the very first groups that developed a series of antagonists for AI-2 mediated quorum sensing, we herein designed and synthesized a series of analogues based on the structures of two lead inhibitors identified through virtual screening. Besides, we also examined their inhibitory activities, twelve of which showed equal or better inhibitory activities compared with the lead inhibitors. The best compound showed an IC50 of about 6 mM in a whole cell assay using Vibrio harveyi as the model organism. This encouraging results and SAR discuss also paves the way for the finding of more potent compound through further structure optimization.

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Chemistry Commons