Post Graduate Student
There are many enzymatic reactions which occur at solid carbohydrate surfaces such as starch metabolism and cellulose degradation. Measurement of surface reactions is exceptionally difficult but cutting edge techniques such SPR and AFM can be used. However the construction of the surface to be studied is complicated by the impurity and insolubility of natural material and the chemical synthesis of carbohydrates is generally difficult because of the complicated stereochemistry, especially for long polymers.
Enzymes can provide exquisite control over the products but have many drawbacks. Glycosyltransferases require expensive and unstable substrates and Glycosidases degrade carbohydrates more readily than they synthesise them. Phosphorylases use relatively accessible substrates and can be used to synthesise carbohydrates readily in vitro. These enzymes are being explored to produce specific carbohydrate architectures.
Tantanarat K., Rejzek M., O'Neill E., Ruzanski C., Hill L., Fairhurst S. A., Limpaseni T., Field R. A. (2012)
An expedient enzymatic route to isomeric 2-, 3- and 6-monodeoxy-monofluoro-maltose derivatives
Carbohydrate Research 358 12-18