Rapid one-step enzymatic synthesis and all-aqueous purification of trehalose analogues

Lisa M. Meints, Anne W. Poston, Brent F. Piligian, Claire D. Olson, Katherine S. Badger, Peter J. Woodruff, Benjamin M. Swarts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Chemically modified versions of trehalose, or trehalose analogues, have applications in biology, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical science, among other fields. For instance, trehalose analogues bearing detectable tags have been used to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis and may have applications as tuberculosis diagnostic imaging agents. Hydrolytically stable versions of trehalose are also being pursued due to their potential for use as non-caloric sweeteners and bioprotective agents. Despite the appeal of this class of compounds for various applications, their potential remains unfulfilled due to the lack of a robust route for their production. Here, we report a detailed protocol for the rapid and efficient one-step biocatalytic synthesis of trehalose analogues that bypasses the problems associated with chemical synthesis. By utilizing the thermostable trehalose synthase (TreT) enzyme from Thermoproteus tenax, trehalose analogues can be generated in a single step from glucose analogues and uridine diphosphate glucose in high yield (up to quantitative conversion) in 15-60 min. A simple and rapid non-chromatographic purification protocol, which consists of spin dialysis and ion exchange, can deliver many trehalose analogues of known concentration in aqueous solution in as little as 45 min. In cases where unreacted glucose analogue still remains, chromatographic purification of the trehalose analogue product can be performed. Overall, this method provides a "green" biocatalytic platform for the expedited synthesis and purification of trehalose analogues that is efficient and accessible to non-chemists. To exemplify the applicability of this method, we describe a protocol for the synthesis, all-aqueous purification, and administration of a trehalose-based click chemistry probe to mycobacteria, all of which took less than 1 hour and enabled fluorescence detection of mycobacteria. In the future, we envision that, among other applications, this protocol may be applied to the rapid synthesis of trehalose-based probes for tuberculosis diagnostics. For instance, short-lived radionuclide-modified trehalose analogues (e.g.,18F-modified trehalose) could be used for advanced clinical imaging modalities such as positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54485
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number120
StatePublished - Feb 17 2017


  • Biochemistry
  • Click chemistry
  • Enzymatic synthesis
  • Fluorescence
  • Issue 120
  • Mycobacteria
  • TreT
  • Trehalose analogue
  • Trehalose synthase
  • Tuberculosis


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