ESR8: Chemical approaches to modify biological membranes and cell-surfaces

Location: University of Copenhagen, DK

Supervisor: Prof Ola Blixt

All living cells escape genetic imprisonment by incorporating post-translational modifications such as glycosylation into virtually all translated cellular proteins. This creates the true complexities of the cellular life that are orders of magnitudes more advanced than the human genome and a necessity for life. Despite technical advancements in the analysis of cell surface components, the repertoire of the glycome structures and their cellular interactions are immense and often too complex to decipher. Instead we propose a bottom-up approach using defined Glyco-modules creating an artificial glycocalyx (glycocalyxification) that can be used to systematically resolve the complex interactions on cellular-size membranes. There are several interesting applications within this area to investigate: (i) can we systematically build-up an artificial glycoxalyx from a plain cellular-sized membrane vesicles? (ii) can we complement the existing cellular glycocalyx with a synthetic glycocalyx components to fine-tune or induce specific cellular interactions and signaling pathways? (iii) can we trick pathogens to be attracted or rejected to the modulated cellular glycocalyx? (iv) can we utilise vesicles modulated with the artificial glycocalyx for efficient drug delivery in vivo?

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