A dendrimer is a synthetically made branched molecule. In this work, a family of amphiphilic Janus dendrimers bearing precise carbohydrate residues arranged in a defined sequence – glycodendrimers – were used to make vesicles that could be agglutinated by naturally occurring lectins that binds to carbohydrates. The lectins, called galectins, are human adhesion and growth regulatory lectins. Very small differences in the chemistry of different galectin were detected through differences in agglutination with different Janus glycodendrimers. The precision of the assay is controlled through the structure of the dendrimer, its carbohydrate composition, and how the carbohydrate residues are displayed.
S.D. Zhang, et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 137, 13334-13344 (2015).