Introducing structural modifications into biomolecules represents a powerful approach to dissect their functions and roles in biological processes. Bacterial polysaccharides, despite their rich structural information and essential roles in bacterium-host interactions and bacterial virulence, have largely been unexplored for in vivo structural modifications. In this study, we demonstrate the incorporation of a panel of monosaccharide analogs into bacterial polysaccharides in a highly homogenous manner via metabolic engineering of a promiscuous sugar nucleotide biosynthetic pathway. In addition, the bioorthorgonal functional groups metabolically incorporated were exploited for cell surface labeling using in vitro selective chemical ligation reactions. In summary, our study presents a general, facile and effective approach for in vivo generation of novel tailor-made bacterial polysaccharides
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