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National University of Ireland, Galway

Carbohydrates or glycans coat every living cell and are therefore involved in the interactions that occur between cells. Inter-cellular communication is an essential part of many biological processes and is also perturbed in many diseases. In the gut, cell surface glycans and their corresponding binding proteins (lectins) play a critical role in host-microbial interactions and communications, during both symbiotic colonization of the gut and invasion by pathogenic species.

Alimentary Microbiology and Glycosciences are each rapidly advancing research fields in their own right. However, together these two disciplines can provide a better understanding of both symbiotic and pathogenic relationships between hosts and microbes in the gut. This will potentially lead to novel diagnostic markers, prophylactics, therapeutics and nutraceuticals for gastro-intestinal health.

The Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster (AGRC) is an inter-institutional, multi-disciplinary consortium of academic and industrial researchers funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), which is exploring the role of gut glycosylation in host-microbe interactions. TheAGRC team includes Irish and international researchers from both alimentary microbiology and glycoscience fields, who bring their complementary skills to bear on this important research theme.

The focus of the AGRC is:

  • To study the glycomic responses of gut epithelial cells to colonisation with selected commensal and pathogenic microorganisms and to the presence of milk oligosaccharides, using existing tools for glycoanalysis, lectin analysis, and transcriptomics.
  • To develop innovative, high throughput analytical platforms for glycan analysis and to develop mimics and analogues of host glycans and the corresponding lectins involved in these interactions.

This coordinated effort will build technological capacity and commercial opportunities in an area of high scientific and commercial potential, particularly in the biopharmaceutical, bioanalytical, dairy and food sectors.

Prof. Joshi talks about Glycoscience at the TEDx event in Galway, 2011.

A visualisation of the work of the AGRC is presented below.

Recent Publications

  • Bhavsar K, Fairchild A, Alonas E, Bishop DK, La Belle JT, Sweeney J, Alford TL, Joshi L. (2009) A cytokine immunosensor for Multiple Sclerosis detection based upon label-free electrochemical impedance spectroscopy using electroplated printed circuit board electrodes. Biosens Bioelectron. 25(2):506-9.
  • Kilcoyne M, Shah M, Gerlach JQ, Bhavanandan V, Nagaraj V, Smith AD, Fujiyama K, Sommer U, Costello CE, Olszewski N, Joshi L. (2009) O-glycosylation of protein subpopulations in alcohol-extracted rice proteins. J Plant Physiol.166(3):219-32.
  • Svarovsky SA, Joshi L. (2008) Biocombinatorial selection of carbohydrate binding agents of therapeutic significance. Curr Drug Discov Technol. 5(1):20-8
  • Foley KJ, Forzani ES, Joshi L, Tao N. (2008)  Detection of lectin-glycan interaction using high resolution surface plasmon resonance. Analyst. 133(6):744-6.
  • La Belle JT, Gerlach JQ, Svarovsky S, Joshi L. (2007) Label-free impedimetric detection of glycan-lectin interactions. Anal Chem. 79(18):6959-64. Epub 2007 Jul 21.
  • Kilcoyne M, Joshi L. (2007) Carbohydrates in therapeutics. Cardiovasc Hematol Agents Med Chem. 5(3):186-97.
  • Shaw, I, O’Reilly, A, Charleton, M, Kane, M. (2008) Development of a high affinity anti-domoic acid sheep scFv and its use in detection of the toxin in shellfish. Analytical Chemistry. 80(9):3205-12
  • Hu, X., O’Hara, L., White, S., Magner, E., Kane, M., Wall, G.  (2007) Optimisation of production of a domoic acid-binding scFV fragment in E. coli using molecular chaperones and functional immobilization on a mesoporous silicate support.  Protein Expression and Purification 52, 194-201.
  • Gillis EH, Traynor I, Gosling JP, Kane M.  (2006) Improvements to a surface Plasmon resonance-based immunoassay for the steroid hormone progesterone.  J AOAC International. 89, 838-842.