Glycans are one of the four primary macromolecules (nucleic acids, proteins, glycans and lipids) of living cellular systems that serve critical structural and functional roles. Unfortunately, glycans have not received significant attention from both life sciences and biochemical engineering disciplines. This has severely limited our understanding of how cellular systems function and the role of glycans on modulating these systems (1). The role of glycosylation in living systems can be better understood through systematically creating model systems to uncover the rules governing the synthesis, deconstruction, and structure-function relationships of these complex macromolecules.
We are interested in utilizing hybrid chemical and enzymatic methods to synthesize and characterize glycans and glycoconjugates (i.e., glycans covalently linked to proteins or lipids). We are also interested in the development of reagents and analytical tools that will enable the field of glycobiology and glycoengineering. This interdisciplinary chemical-biology approach would ultimately facilitate the development of novel analytical tools (e.g., single-molecule force spectroscopy methods), engineered CAZymes, and 'glyco-products' with a broad range of applications spanning from healthcare to advanced biomaterials (2). We are currently funded by the NSF on this general topic area.
- National Research Council: Transforming Glycoscience : A Roadmap for the Future. 2012:209.
- Wang L-X, Davis BG: Realizing the Promise of Chemical Glycobiology. Chem Sci 2013, 4:3381–3394.