Advances in the biology and chemistry of sialic acids

Xi Chen, Ajit Varki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

361 Scopus citations


Sialic acids are a subset of nonulosonic acids, which are ninecarbon α-keto aldonic acids. Natural existing sialic acid-containing structures are presented in different sialic acid forms, various sialyl linkages, and on diverse underlying glycans. They play important roles in biological, pathological, and immunological processes. Sialobiology has been a challenging and yet attractive research area. Recent advances in chemical and chemoenzymatic synthesis, as well as large-scale E. coli cell-based production, have provided a large library of sialoside standards and derivatives in amounts sufficient for structure-activity relationship studies. Sialoglycan microarrays provide an efficient platform for quick identification of preferred ligands for sialic acid-binding proteins. Future research on sialic acid will continue to be at the interface of chemistry and biology. Research efforts not only will lead to a better understanding of the biological and pathological importance of sialic acids and their diversity but also could lead to the development of therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-176
Number of pages14
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 19 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine


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