β-N-Acetylhexosaminidases—the wizards of glycosylation

  • Pavla Bojarová
  • Jan Bruthans
  • Vladimír KřenEmail author


β-N-Acetylhexosaminidases (EC are a unique family of glycoside hydrolases with dual substrate specificity and a particular reaction mechanism. Though hydrolytic enzymes per se, their good stability, easy recombinant production, absolute stereoselectivity, and a broad substrate specificity predestine these enzymes for challenging applications in carbohydrate synthesis. This mini-review aims to demonstrate the catalytic potential of β-N-acetylhexosaminidases in a range of unusual reactions, processing of unnatural substrates, formation of unexpected products, and demanding reaction designs. The use of unconventional media can considerably alter the progress of transglycosylation reactions. By means of site-directed mutagenesis, novel catalytic machineries can be constructed. Glycosylation of difficult substrates such as sugar nucleotides was accomplished, and the range of afforded glycosidic bonds comprises unique non-reducing sugars. Specific functional groups may be tolerated in the substrate molecule, which makes β-N-acetylhexosaminidases invaluable allies in difficult synthetic problems.


β-N-acetylhexosaminidase Carbohydrate Enzymatic synthesis N-acetylglucosamine N-acetylgalactosamine Glycosidase Glycosylation Modified substrate Oligosaccharide 



The authors are thankful for financial and networking support from the EU COST actions MuTaLig CA15135, and EU-Cardioprotection CA16225.


This study was funded by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic projects Nos. LTC17005, and LTC18041.

Compliance with ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Biotransformation, Institute of MicrobiologyCzech Academy of SciencesPraha 4Czech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Health Care Disciplines and Population Protection, Faculty of Biomedical EngineeringCzech Technical University in PragueKladnoCzech Republic
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical Technology, Faculty of Biomedical EngineeringCzech Technical University in PragueKladnoCzech Republic

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