November 2011

Sugar fix

The diverse biological roles of glycoconjugates


Meetings_glycoconjugatesGlycoconjugates play critical roles in recognition, adhesion, protein stability and function. Alterations in glycosylation frequently lead to disease. The four sessions in the 1012 annual meeting’s glycobiology theme focus on the role of glycoconjugates in pathogenesis, signaling, development, metabolism and disease. They also address novel metabolic routes of glycoconjugate assembly.


Glycoconjugates often provide the key interface between a microbial pathogen and a host cell and are, therefore, excellent targets for the development of therapeutics. The first session, “Glycoconjugates in Pathogen Invasion and Virulence,” features three talks that focus on the surface glycoconjugates of bacteria and a protozoan parasite.

Malcolm McConville (University of Melbourne) will highlight recent advances in our understanding of cell-wall assembly in mycobacteria. The cell walls of these important pathogens are composed of several classes of glycolipids, and a number of novel proteins have been shown to regulate their assembly and transport across the cell membrane.

Lora Hooper (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas) will present her work on the innate immune mechanisms that promote symbiotic relationships with the vast communities of bacteria that inhabit the intestine. She will focus on the role of a secreted carbohydrate-binding protein in maintaining the mutually beneficial nature of these host-microbial interactions. 

Igor Almeida (University of Texas at El Paso) has identified glycoconjugates of the Chagas-disease-causing parasite Trypanosoma cruzi that are virulence factors. He will describe recent efforts to use these glycoconjugates as targets for vaccine development.

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