Screening mixtures for biological activity by NMR

Bernd Meyer*, Thomas Weimar, Thomas Peters

*Corresponding author for this work
154 Citations (Scopus)


Development of new drugs often involves the screening of compound libraries for biological activity. Currently, the biologically active component can only be identified if either a pure compound is being tested or if the components of a mixture are spatially separated, for example, on beads. Here, we present an NMR technique based on the transferred nuclear Overhauser effect (transfer NOE) that allows identification and structural characterization of biologically active molecules from a mixture. As an example we demonstrate that from mixtures of oligosaccharides only α-L-Fuc-(1→6)-β-D-G1cNAc-OMe binds to Aleuria aurantia agglutinin. The sign of transferred NOEs is opposite to NOEs of small molecules that do not bind to the protein and, thus, an unequivocal identification of molecules with binding activity is possible. Normally, the selection of bound ligands is further facilitated in that the absolute intensity of transfer NOEs is much greater than that of NOEs of non-binding molecules. In addition, transfer NOEs provide information on the three-dimensional structure of the ligands in the bound state. Therefore, measuring transfer NOEs of mixtures of small molecules in the presence of large molecules, like proteins, should significantly enhance the options for screening mixtures of compounds for biological activity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)705-709
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 1997

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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