skip to primary navigationskip to content

Research overview

The biosynthesis of polysaccharides involves the action of hundreds of different glycosyltransferases (GTs), the enzymes that catalyse the specific transfer of sugar moieties from activated nucleotide sugar donors to acceptor molecules, forming glycosidic bonds. Specific nucleotide-sugar transporters located in the Golgi membrane are also involved as suppliers of the monosaccharide (Figure 1). Our knowledge about the specific function of the glycosyltranferases and the requirement of specific sugar transporters for biosynthesis is, however, limited.


Overview model 


Figure 1: A model of polysaccharide biosynthesis in the Golgi


At the moment we are predominantly working on understanding the biosynthesis of diverse variants of xylan and glucomannan in different plants. Both xylan and glucomannan are hemicellulosic components of the plant cell wall that are synthesized in the Golgi apparatus. In general, our research focuses on understanding how the polysaccharides are synthesized, what their structure is and how the structure relates to function. Recently published work on xylan biosynthesis and glucomannan biosynthesis exemplifies our approach of combining reverse genetics, cell biology and biochemical methods to analyse protein function and polysaccharide structure. The complexity of polysaccharide structures and their analysis are exemplified by our work on the structure of arabinogalactans.

Contact details


Prof Paul Dupree


Tel: +44 (0)1223 333340



General Lab

Tel: +44 (0)1223 333686



Department of Biochemistry

University of Cambridge

Hopkins Building Tennis Court Road



United Kingdom