Research on Carbohydrates in biomedicine, plants and microbes
The CCRC's 18 interdisciplinary research groups study the structures and functions of the complex carbohydrates of plants, microbes, and animals to determine the role of carbohydrates in growth and development, host-pathogen interactions, and disease processes. These groups develop and use advanced analytical techniques, including mass spectrometry, NMR spectroscopy, chemical and enzymatic synthesis, computer modeling, cell and molecular biology, and immunocytochemistry. The members of each research group interact closely with one another to take full advantage of the knowledge and experience in all aspects of complex carbohydrate science available at the CCRC.
Six CCRC faculty (Kelly Moremen, Michael Pierce, Richard Steet, Michael Tiemeyer, Lianchun Wangs, and Lance Wells) lead groups that investigate the roles of glycoproteins and proteoglycans in animal growth and development, disease, and cancer. Research areas include:
* Studies of the structure, regulation, and localization of enzymes involved in the biosynthesis and catabolism of mammalian glycoproteins
* The role of glycoproteins in regulating intercellular recognition and adhesion
* The effects of abnormal glycosylation on pathogenesis of congenital disorders
* The effects of post-translational modifications of proteins in nutrient sensing, signal transduction, diabetes, and cancer
* The role of heparan sulfate in blood coagulation, inflammation, and vascular development
The CCRC plant cell wall group consists of six faculty (Peter Albersheim, Maor Bar-Peled, Alan Darvill, Michael Hahn, Debra Mohen, and William York) who study the structures, biosynthesis and biological functions of plant primary cell walls. This group is also a component of the DOE Bioenergy Science Center (BESC) and is investigating how secondary cell wall biosynthesis and structure can be modified to improve the value of bioenergy crops for biofuel production.
The chemical synthesis group led by Geert-Jan Boons develops new and improved methods for synthesizing complex glycoconjugates including cancer and bacterial vaccines, glycosidase inhibitors, and compounds to study innate immunity. In complimentary research, Russell Carlson's group studies the role of bacterial glycoconjugates in determining pathogenicity in animals and in the symbiotic infection of legumes by rhizobia. The group led by Harry Gilbert uses biochemical and molecular biology techniques to study the structure and function of glycoside hydrolases, glycosyltransferases and other proteins with carbohydrate binding modules.
Three CCRC faculty lead groups that develop analytical techniques for characterizing complex carbohydrates. Jim Prestegard uses nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study the structure and function of biologically important macromolecular assemblies involving carbohydrates, proteins, and membranes. Ron Orlando employs mass spectrometry to elucidate the structure and biological functions of glycoproteins. Rob Woods develops computational methods to examine the relationships between the conformations of carbohydrate molecules and their biological recognition and activity.
Additional information on specific research areas and faculty research interests can be obtained by following the links in the left column.