Carbohydrate-mimetic peptides: structural aspects of mimicry and therapeutic implications
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Introduction: The existence of specific carbohydrates on the surface of a wide range of cells provides the opportunity for the development of highly targeted therapeutic agents. The potential applications of such agents are diverse, and include vaccines against pathogenic microorganisms, cancer and HIV, and anti-rejection agents for organ transplantation. However, the use of carbohydrates as either therapeutic agents or immunogens is frequently problematic, as they are often rapidly metabolized and poorly immunogenic. Therefore, the search for carbohydrate-mimetic agents is of considerable therapeutic value, for the potential of such agents to both interfere with carbohydrate–protein interactions and to generate carbohydrate-specific immune responses. Areas covered: The review discusses recent examples of carbohydrate-mimetic peptides with regard to the structural and functional aspects of mimicry and the implications of peptide mimicry for application in therapeutics. The reader will gain knowledge of the various mechanisms of peptide carbohydrate mimicry, and the potential importance of these mechanisms in targeted therapeutic design. Expert opinion: Peptide carbohydrate mimicry is manifested by distinct mechanisms, any one of which may be relevant to specific protein targets. As structural information becomes available for a wider variety of systems, the questions about mimicry will be more effectively addressed.
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