Size-Controlled Chemoenzymatic Synthesis of Homogeneous Oligosaccharides of Neisseria meningitidis W Capsular Polysaccharide

Riyao Li, Hai Yu, Saddam M. Muthana, Darón I. Freedberg, Xi Chen

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10 Scopus citations


Neisseria meningitidis (Nm) serogroup W (NmW) is one of the six meningococcal serogroups that cause majority of invasive meningococcal diseases. Its capsular polysaccharide (CPS) is a virulence factor and is a key component in NmW CPS-protein conjugate vaccines. The current clinically used NmW CPS-protein conjugate vaccines are effective, but the costs are high and the products are heterogeneous at both the CPS and conjugate levels. Toward the development of potentially better NmW CPS vaccines, herein we report the synthesis of homogeneous oligosaccharides of NmW CPS in a size-controlled manner using polysaccharide synthase NmSiaDW in a sequential one-pot multienzyme platform. Taking advantage of the obtained structurally defined synthetic oligosaccharides tagged with a hydrophobic chromophore, detailed biochemical characterization of NmSiaDW has been achieved. While the catalytic efficiency of the galactosyltransferase activity of NmSiaDW increases dramatically with the increase of the sialoside acceptor substrate size, the size difference of the galactoside acceptor substrate does not influence NmSiaDW sialyltransferase activity significantly. The ratio of donor and acceptor substrate concentrations, but not the size of the acceptor substrates, has been found to be the major determining factor for the sizes of the oligosaccharides produced. NmW CPS oligosaccharides with a degree of polymerization (DP) higher than 65 have been observed. The study provides a better understanding of NmSiaDW capsular polysaccharide synthase and showcases an efficient chemoenzymatic synthetic platform for obtaining structurally defined NmW CPS oligosaccharides in a size-controlled manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2791-2798
Number of pages8
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 21 2020


  • biocatalysis
  • capsular polysaccharide
  • chemoenzymatic synthesis
  • N. meningitidis W
  • polysaccharide vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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