Cell Surface Glycans as Cellular IDs
From humans to fungi to bacteria, virtually all cells on Earth possess a carbohydrate coat. One important role of this coat is to serve as an identification card (ID). Checking microbial IDs is critical for human health. As animals living amongst microbes, we need to distinguish between microorganisms that are generally benign (commensal), beneficial (mutualist/symbiont), or pathogenic. The glycans play key roles. This seminar will focus on the roles of carbohydrate-binding proteins in checking glycan IDs. Topics will span from probing fundamental chemical forces underlying the recognition of carbohydrates to understanding how nature exploits these interactions to detect microbes—both commensal and pathogenic. Our research group is studying how to co-opt or inhibit glycan interactions for health and disease.