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Luis Federico Leloir

Luis Federico Leloir Aguirre, Argentine biochemist (Paris 06 September 1906 – Buenos Aires 02 December 1987)





Obtained with Juan Mauricio Muñoz, the first free-cell oxidative system (1939)


Discovered angiotensin with E. Braun-Menendez, J.C. Fasciolo and J.M. Muñoz (1939), a discovery independent from Page and Helmer 


With E. Braun-Menendez, J.C. Fasciolo and A. Taquini described enzymatic nature of renin-angiotensin system and its link to arterial hypertension


Discovered sugar nucleotides, determined its chemical nature and showed that play a key role in sugar interconversion and polysaccharides synthesis (1948)  with R. Caputto, C.E. Cardini and A. Paladini


Showed that biosynthesis of sugar and sugar-derivatives compounds are essentially transfer reactions


Isolated glucose 1,6 diphosphate known as Leloir ester (1948), uridine diphosphate glucose (UDP) in 1950, uridine diphosphate acetyl glucosamine and guanosine diphosphate mannose (1953) 


With R. Caputto discovered general synthetic mechanism of disaccharides in yeasts, showing the same mechanism in plants (1950) 


Demonstrated sucrose synthesis from uridine diphosphate glucose and fructose


With C. Cardini established that in plant tissues two reactions can lead to synthesis of sucrose (1953-5)

With C. Cardini suggested the involvement of uridine diphosphate N-acetylglucosamine in chitin synthesis (1953)

With E. Cabib first demonstrated the participation of UDPG in the biosynthesis of disaccharides in J. Am. Chem. Soc. 75:5445, 1953

Discovered glycogen synthase

Synthesized trehalose with Enrico Cabib (1953) and sucrose with Carlos Eugenio Cardini and J. Chiriboga (1955)


Showed the enzyme that transfer glucose from UDP-glucose to glycogen (1957)

With C.E. Cardini described an alternative mechanism for synthesis of glycogen from UDP-glucose and glycogen synthase (1957)


With R. Caputto discovered and determined structure of glucose-1,6 di-phosphate (1958)


With Yamaha & Cardini demonstrated that glycosides synthesis via UDPG (1960)


With Fekete & Cardini discovered enzymatic system that catalyzes sucrose transformation into starch (1960)


With Frydman & Cardini demonstrated that phytoglycogen biosynthesis from ADP-glucose (1965)

Identified dolichols (1970)


Clarified transfer mechanism from oligosaccharides to proteins, elucidating the role of dolichol in proteins glycosylation  


Demonstrated the role of polyprenol in glucose metabolism


Elucidated primary mechanisms of galactose metabolism (Leloir pathway) and determined what causes galactosemia  


Discovered the central role of uridine diphosphate derivatives in the interconversion of galactose and glucose



Discovered the function of glycolipids as precursors of glycoproteins  


Clarified the mechanism of biosynthesis of glycoproteins (1970s)  

Established the basis of the pathway leading to the synthesis of glycoproteins in eukaryotic cells and also provided the first evidence indicating that the protein-linked oligosaccharides (glycoproteins) was processed 


With J.L. Reissig & J.L. Strominger. A modified colorimetric method for the estimation of N-acetyl amino sugars. J. Biol. Chem. 217(2):959-66, 1955

With E. Cabib & H.G. Pontis. An improved method for the isolation of some nucleoside diphosphate sugar from yeast. Biochem. Biophys. (1957) 

With Cabib and Cardini suggested the use of sodium chloride in dilute hydrochloric acid for eluting nucleotides from a column of ion-exchange resin and introduced the technique of purifying nucleotides with Norite 

Papers in top journals

With J.M. Muñoz, J.C. Fasciolo & A.C. Taquini. Hypertensin: the substance causing renal hypertension. Nature 144:980, 1939

With J.C. Fasciolo, J.M. Muñoz & E. Baun Menendez. On the specificity of renin. Science 92 (2398):554-5, 1940

With E.B. Menendez, J.C. Fasciolo, B.A. Houssay, J.M. Muñoz & A.C. Taquini. Angiotonin or hypertensin. Science 98(2553):495, 1953

With M.A. Rongine de Fekete & C.E. Cardini. Mechanism of starch biosynthesis. Nature 187:918-9, 1960

With J. Mordoh & C.R. Krisman. In vitro synthesis of particulate glycogen. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 53:86-91, 1965

With N.H. Behrens. Dolichol monophosphate glucose: an intermediate in glucose transfer in liver. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 66(1):153-9, 1970

Two decades of research on biosynthesis of saccharides. Science 172(3990):1299-1303, 1971

With N.H. Behrens & A.J. Parodi. Glucose transfer from doliochol monophosphate glucose: the product formed with endogenous microsomal acceptor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 68(1):2857-60, 1971

With A.J. Parodi, N.H. Behrens & H. Carminatti. The role of polyprenol-bound saccharides as intermediates in glycoprotein synthesis in liver. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 69(11):3268-72, 1972

With N.H. Behrens, H. Carminatti, R.J. Staneloni & A.I. Cantarella. Formation of lipid-bound oligosaccharides containing mannose. Their role in glycoprotein synthesis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 70(12):3390-4, 1973

With R.J. Staneloni. Oligosaccharides containing glucose and mannose in glycoproteins of the thyroid gland. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 75(3):1162-6, 1978



Leloir ester (glucose 1,6diphosphate)

Leloir pathway or Leloir cycle or Leloir-Cardini cycle (galactose metabolism)

Leloir enzymes  (known as glycosyltransferases)

Leloir reaction (between glucose 1,6 diphosphate and mannose 1 phosphate)

Leloir-Cardini enzyme (UDP glucose glycogen transglucoxylase)

Leloir method for extraction of glycogen from liver by mercuric chloride

Leloir-Goldemberg method for determining enzymatic activity (with Sara H. Goldemberg)

Leloir-Trucco method for measuring kynase activity

Paladini-Leloir solvent



Chemistry Nobel Prize (1970)

Gairdner Award (1966)

Louise Gross Horwitz Prize (1967)

Asteroid 2548 Leloir