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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2020-03-01 - 2022-11-30

Plant cell walls consist of a sophisticated composite largely made of several polysaccharide networks with essential functions in the life cycle of the plant. These cell wall polysaccharides receive an enormous interest as sources of sustainable materials and for the production of biofuels. To enhance the economic viability of exploiting biomass as a renewable resource, an increasing number of plants with modified polysaccharide composition are generated. However, a prerequisite to perform targeted genetic modifications is a detailed knowledge of cell wall polysaccharide biosynthesis. We recently produced a glycan microarray equipped with synthetic cell wall oligosaccharides. This microarray provides for the first time the opportunity to develop an assay for the simultaneous screening of various plant glycosyltransferases. The microarray will be incubated with chemically synthesized azido-functionalized sugar nucleotides and putative glycosyltransferases. Any incorporated azido-functionalized monosaccharide will be visualized by subsequent labeling with a fluorescent dye using click-chemistry. Thus, the microarray format of this high-throughput assay will not only be valuable for identifying new glycosyltransferases, but will directly provide information on their substrate specificities.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2022-01-01 - 2025-12-31

Wider Research Context: Trichomonas vaginalis and Tritrichomonas foetus are protist parasites which commonly infect the urogenital or digestive tracts of mammalian hosts leading to mild symptoms and increased risks of infertility, cancer, viral infection and adverse pregnancy outcome. Unfortunately, no vaccine is available and drugs have been less efficient since the emergence of resistant isolates in 1962. Therefore, further research is required to understand the host-parasite interactions of the Trichomonadida order to develop future eradication strategies relevant to human and animal health. Hypotheses: It is hypothesized that there are differences in protein glycosylation and glycoproteome of T. vaginalis and T. foetus isolates that correlates with their genotype or host of origin while N/O-glycans of these species are recognized by carbohydrate binding proteins of the host innate immune system. Methods: This glycomic project will define the protein glycosylation of T. vaginalis and T. foetus through the fine structural characterisation of their N/O-glycans from several reference and clinical isolates. The parasitic glycans will be release by enzymatic and chemical treatments prior to be fluorescently labelled and characterised by two-dimensions HPLC and MALDI-ToF. The parasitic N/O-glycans will be immobilised via glycan-array to investigate their recognition by relevant host innate immunity carbohydrate binding proteins. The parasitic glycoproteomics will aim to enriched and identify specific glycoproteomes based on rare glyco-epitopes via lectin affinity chromatography and LC-MS. Innovation: This in-depth structural mapping of N/O-glycans from T. vaginalis and T. foetus will define trichomonad protein glycosylation and therefore the glycosylation evolution of eukaryote protist parasites. This large glycomic investigation will highlight differences between trichomonad isolates in terms of genotype and host of origin. This first trichomonad-based glycan-array will reveal the parasitic N/O-glycan interactions with host innate immune carbohydrate binding proteins. The glycoproteomics will unveil glycoprotein backbones and their N/O-linked glycans to identify potentially highly immunogenic glycoproteins.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2021-11-01 - 2024-10-31

In this research project materials for the separation and analysis of chiral compounds based on high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) will be developed and evaluated. The research work is thematically located at the interface between organic and analytical chemistry, the chemistry of renewable raw materials (cellulose and other polysaccharides), and in the field of pharmaceutical analysis. The separation of chiral compounds into the respective enantiomers is an omnipresent analytical and preparative challenge in medical, pharmaceutical, and chemical disciplines. This applies to, for example, the production and purity determination of chiral drugs (e.g. ibuprofen), the pharmacokinetic profiling of optically active pharmaceuticals in both human and veterinary medicine, as well as the investigation of food contaminants (e.g. mycotoxins) and environmental pollutants (e.g. chiral fungicides and pesticides). The most common method here is direct chiral HPLC. A large number of HPLC column materials based on a wide variety of chiral selectors is already commercially available, with polysaccharide-based silica gel hybrid phases having emerged as the most powerful ones. However, these are only available in neutral form. Chiral compounds also contain acidic and basic molecular structural motifs and are therefore often present in their respective ionized form as organic salts. The aim of the project is thus to develop novel chiral ion-exchangers based on polysaccharide derivatives, which can be used in the above-mentioned disciplines for the separation of chiral organic acids and bases that were previously difficult to separate. The underlying molecular recognition mechanisms will also be investigated for a better understanding of the separation parameters.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations