Matthew DeLisa, Ph.D., William L. Lewis Professor & Director of the Institute of Biotechnology, Cornell University
Title: Synthetic glycobiology: designing and engineering glycomolecules inside and outside of cells
Abstract: Complex carbohydrates, or glycans, are involved in almost every human disease and biological process. Hence, the field of glycoscience has the potential to broadly impact society in areas as diverse as medicine, energy, and materials. In the last decade, an entirely new discipline called bacterial glycoengineering has made it possible to produce designer glycans on demand, some containing unnatural sugars, and to evolve enzymes, pathways, and host organisms that catalyze prescribed glycosylation reactions. In addition to their biotechnological potential, bacteria equipped with recombinant glycosylation pathways hold promise to improve our fundamental understanding of the glycosylation process. To overcome the complexity of cell-based processes and our inability to control glycosylation components at precise ratios, we have focused on the seamless integration of experimental and computational approaches to develop and optimize a first-of-its-kind cell-free glycoprotein synthesis system that permits biosynthesis and conjugation of customized glycans to target proteins of interest both in one-pot reaction vessels and microfluidic architectures. This talk will cover some of our recent progress towards the purposeful alteration and rational construction of diverse glycosylation systems in both living cells and cell-free reaction environments. By leveraging chemical and molecular biological approaches in conjunction with metabolic engineering and synthetic biology tools, our glycoengineering work has been instrumental in increasing our understanding of glycosylation networks and producing desired glycans and glycoconjugates.