Editors' ChoiceChemistry

EPO via Total Synthesis

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Sci. Signal.  17 Dec 2013:
Vol. 6, Issue 306, pp. ec311
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005008

Erythropoietin (EPO) is a hormone involved in the production of red blood cells. Synthetic EPO produced via genetically engineered cell cultures is used to treat anemia and—more controversially—to boost athletic performance. EPO is a glycoprotein, and although its protein component is well defined, both natural and synthetic EPO exhibit a wide range of attached oligosaccharides. Wang et al. (see the Perspective by Hsieh-Wilson and Griffin) prepared an EPO sample by a chemical synthesis that maintains a uniform pattern of attached sugars throughout, which may prove helpful in the analysis of how variation in the sugar components of EPO affects function.

P. Wang, S. Dong, J.-H. Shieh, E. Peguero, R. Hendrickson, M. A. S. Moore, S. J. Danishefsky, Erythropoietin derived by chemical synthesis. Science 342, 1357–1360 (2013). [Abstract] [Full Text]

L. C. Hsieh-Wilson, M. E. Griffin, Improving biologic drugs via total chemical synthesis. Science 342, 1332–1333 (2013). [Abstract] [Full Text]