What is Glycobiology?
Besides genes, proteins, and lipids, other major components of living cells are the carbohydrates. They are found covalently attached to proteins and lipids, and they are particularly abundant at the cell surface. From bacteria to man all cells are covered with dense and complex arrays of carbohydrates, which are termed glycans. Glycans are increasingly recognized as important mediators of cell-cell interactions, host-pathogen recognition, in signal transduction and many other biological processes. All microbial pathogens which enter a multicellular host encounter glycans within the extracellular matrix and at the surface of susceptible cells. Many pathogens even use glycans as specific receptors.
5-N-acetyl neuraminic acid
Our lab is dedicated to the research on sialic acids. They represent a family of more approximately 50 naturally occuring derivatives of 5-N-acetyl neuraminic acid. Sialic acids represent receptors for several viruses, including influenza viruses, coronaviruses and toroviruses. In order to understand the initial steps of infections in more detail, we are studying the specific interactions between viruses and sialic acids at a molecular level. In addition, we are also interested in the biological functions of sialic acids in the regulation of cell differentiation, signal transduction, control of apoptosis and in the development of malignant cancers.
Our laboratory is Participating Member of the Consortium for Functional Glycomics