SeMOE allows for quantitative glycan perception and exhibits anti-cancer potentiality

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Metabolic oligosaccharide engineering (MOE) is a classical chemical approach to perturb, profile and perceive glycans in physiological systems, but probes upon bioorthogonal reaction require accessibility and background signal readout makes it challenging to achieve absolute glycan quantification. Here we develop SeMOE, a selenosugar-based metabolic oligosaccharide engineering strategy that combines elemental analysis and MOE to enable the absolute quantification and mass spectrometric imaging of glycome in a concise procedure. We demonstrate that SeMOE probes allow for perception, absolute quantification and visualization of glycans in diverse biological contexts. We demonstrate that chemical reporters on conventional MOE can be integrated into a bifunctional SeMOE probe to provide multimodality signal readouts. We further show the anti-cancer potentiality of SeMOE probes. SeMOE thus provides a convenient and simplified method to “see more” of the glyco-world.

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