Prof. Dr. Lothar Elling
The mission statement of our current and future research program is:
"From Genes to Glycoconjugates".
An important class of biomolecules comprises glycoconjugates like glycoproteins, glycolipids, and proteoglycans presenting signals for cellular communication. The understanding of glycans as multifunctional information carriers will result in an enormous application potential of glycoconjugates in the interdisciplinary field of biomedical engineering. The functional diversity of glycoconjugates promises many diagnostic and therapeutic applications. A great challenge is still the synthesis of the "glyco"-moiety of such glycoconjugates. Therefore, tailor-made strategies for the synthesis of glycan sequences have to be developed. In this context, the aim of our research program is to synthesize (neo)glyco structures applying biocatalytic combinatorial strategies and to characterize them for the development of novel bio-functionalized biomaterial surfaces, to use them as diagnostic tools, and to provide them for applications in biomaterial research.
In our previous and ongoing research projects we have developed biocatalytic (enzymatic) tools. These are enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of nucleotide (deoxy)sugars and Leloir-glycosyltransferases which we utilize in combinatorial biocatalysis approaches to obtain glycan structures or nucleotide deoxysugars. Optimization of such enzymatic processes by reaction engineering is accomplished by a profound biochemical characterization of all involved enzymes, e.g. the exploration and improvement of the substrate spectra of these recombinant enzymes will provide novel possibilities for the synthesis of natural and modified glycoconjugates.
Molecular biological methods for gene-expression in microbial hosts (PCR, mutagenesis, vectors); enzyme production by fermentation; enzyme purification (chromatography); biochemical characterization of enzymes (kinetics, substrate spectrum); protein chemical characterization of enzymes (SDS-PAGE, western-blot); biocatalytic processes for the synthesis of glycoconjugates (repetitive batch); isolation and characterization of glycoconjugates (HPLC, CE, HPLC/MS, NMR in cooperation).