Fucose-Galactose Saccharides

Fucose-α(1-2)-galactose (Fucα(1-2)Gal) carbohydrates have been implicated in long-term memory formation. However, the molecular mechanisms by which these sugars influence neuronal communication are not well understood. We are developing chemical tools to facilitate our understanding of these processes and to identify and characterize both fucosylated glycoproteins and fucose-binding proteins (i.e. lectins) in the brain. To investigate fucose-binding proteins, we have synthesized a  Fucα(1-2)Gal imaging probe and multivalent Fucα(1-2)Gal polymers to show that Fucα(1-2)Gal binding proteins exist and are important for neuronal growth. Additionally, we have employed azido- and alkynyl-fucose analogs to metabolically label fucosylated proteins in neurons. Using chemical probes and high-throughput mass spectrometry, we have completed the first proteomic analyses of fucosylated glycoproteins and lectins from the mammalian brain. Together, our studies have identified important roles for fucosyl sugars in the regulation of  neuronal proteins and morphological changes   that may underlie neuronal communication, learning and memory.