Glycobiology and Extracellular Matrices
- Heparan sulfate (HS) proteoglycans (HSPGs) are abundant glycoconjugates in cells’ glycocalyx and extracellular matrix. By acting as scaffolds for protein–protein interactions, HSPGs modulate extracellular ligand gradients, cell signaling networks, and cell–extracellular matrix crosstalk. Aberrant expression of HSPGs and enzymes involved in HSPG biosynthesis and processing has been reported in tumors, with impact in cancer cell behavior and tumor microenvironment properties. However, the roles of specific glycosyltransferases in the deregulated biosynthesis of HSPGs are not fully understood.
- N-glycosylation is an essential eukaryotic posttranslational modification that affects various glycoprotein properties, including folding, solubility, protein–protein interactions, and half-life. N-glycans are processed in the secretory pathway to form varied ensembles of structures, and diversity at a single site on a glycoprotein is termed ‘microheterogeneity’. To understand the factors that influence glycan microheterogeneity, we hypothesized that local steric and electrostatic factors surrounding each site influence glycan availability for enzymatic modification.
- The immune system produces a diverse collection of antiglycan antibodies that are critical for host defense. At present, however, we know very little about the binding properties, origins, and sequences of these antibodies because of a lack of access to a variety of defined individual antibodies. To address this challenge, we used a glycan microarray with over 800 different components to screen a panel of 516 human monoclonal antibodies that had been randomly cloned from different B-cell subsets originating from healthy human subjects.
- Newly synthesized proteins in the secretory pathway, including glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins (GPI-APs), need to be correctly targeted and imported into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) lumen. GPI-APs are synthesized in the cytosol as preproproteins, which contain an N-terminal signal sequence (SS), mature protein part, and C-terminal GPI-attachment sequence (GPI-AS), and translocated into the ER lumen where SS and GPI-AS are removed, generating mature GPI-APs. However, how various GPI-APs are translocated into the ER lumen in mammalian cells is unclear.
- Akkermansia muciniphila is key member of the human gut microbiota that impacts many features of host health. A major characteristic of this bacterium is its interaction with host mucin, which is abundant in the gut environment, and its ability to metabolize mucin as a nutrient source. The machinery deployed by A. muciniphila to enable this interaction appears to be extensive and sophisticated, yet it is incompletely defined. The uncharacterized protein AMUC_1438 is encoded by a gene that was previously shown to be upregulated when the bacterium is grown on mucin.