An unprecedented approach towards oligosaccharides containing N-acetylglucosamine-N-acetylmuramic (NAG-NAM) units was developed. These novel bacterial cell wall surrogates were obtained from chitosan via a top down approach involving both chemical and enzymatic reactions. The chemical modification of chitosan using a molecular clamp based strategy, allowed obtaining N-acetylglucosamine-N-acetylmuramic (NAG-NAM) containing oligomers. Intercalation of NAM residues was confirmed through the analysis of oligosaccharide fragments from enzymatic digestion and it was found that this route affords NAG-NAM containing oligosaccharides in 33% yield. These oligosaccharides mimic the carbohydrate basic skeleton of most bacterial cell surfaces. The oligosaccharides prepared are biologically relevant and will serve as a platform for further molecular recognition studies with different receptors and enzymes of both bacterial cell wall and innate immune system. This strategy combining both chemical modification and enzymatic digestion provides a novel and simple route for an easy access to bacterial cell wall fragments – biologically important targets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115133
JournalCarbohydrate Polymers
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2019


  • Chemo-enzymatic
  • Chitooligosaccharides
  • Chitosan
  • Regioselective modification


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