The Altmann-Glycobiology group


Dr. Clemens Gruber

Doktoral students:

Mag. Andreas Thader (Towards analysing the brain glycome)
Dipl.Ing. Elisabeth Svehla (Immunology plant O-glycans)
Dipl.Ing. Johannes Führer (O-glycan analysis with emphasis on T- and Tn-antigen)

Diploma students:

none at the moment

Technicians / Scientific assistance:

Ing. Thomas Dalik
Ing. Karin Polacsek
BSc. Rudolf Figl
BSc. Daniel Maresch

Research group Altmann “Glyco-bio-analysis”

Dealing with the biological functions of protein-glycosylation – a phenomenon found on almost all proteins in serum and on cell surfaces – calls for the availability of highly capable analysis by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Once this costly and valuable equipment is on hand, it can be used for vast variety of purposes in general protein and – well – glycoprotein analysis.

Our working areas are:

Bio-mass spectrometry  --  Since 2012 we operate a high-resolution Q-TOF mass spec (Bruker, Maxis G4) (as partner of the EQ-VIBT GmbH) and an ion-trap with CID and ETD capability (Bruker, amaZone Speed ETD) plus the necessary nano- and capillary HPLC systems. The high resolution, mass accuracy and sensitivity allow to answer an infinite variety of analytical problems such as protein identification via peptide mapping, de novo sequencing of peptides, mass determination of intact proteins and last but not least quantitative proteomics.  These capacities are regularily drawn on by other groups from BOKU and elsewhere.

Glycoprotein analysis – Oligosaccharides on secreted proteins are highly complex and diverse structures, which differ by the number and position/linkage of several different sugar residues. We develop methods for a true isomer-sensible glycan analysis using our modern LC-MS equipment to the best. Reference glycans are synthetized using recombinant glycosyltransferases. Our curiosity leads us into the kingdoms of plants, insects, algae and funig. Most efforts are however dedicated to pharmaceutically relevant glycoproteins.

Glycan biosynthesis – Plant O-glycans and their biosynthesis are an as of yet still rather unexplored area. Our research with plant O-glycans arose with the discovery of such structures on weed pollen allergens. Additionally, it is the increasing use of plants as expression systems that demands a better understanding of these post-translational modifications via a combination of analytical, biological and immunogical techniques.

Glyco-immunology – The sugar residues on glycoproteins of different species often exhibit “foreign” structures and are thus immunogenic. On allergens of pollens, insect venoms or vegetable foodstuffs glycans contribute to IgE binding – a phenomen that contributes considerably to apparent cross-reactivity in serum-based allergy diagnosis. We developed a simple, cheap and robust means of eliminating these false positive measurements. In a sort of Initiative we try - together with a company – to validate and spread this straigth-forward approach towards better allergy diagnosis in diagnostic practice.