"Sweet" Structural Biology

“Sweet” Structural Biology

Sugars, ubiquitous in our daily lives, extend beyond culinary use, serving as essential components in biological systems. Scientifically, sugars are often termed glycans. Glycan structures are integral to numerous cellular processes such as cell signaling and communication, yet historically, they have received less attention compared to, e.g., proteins. This disparity mainly stems from the limited toolset available for probing the intricate structure-function relationships of glycans, which has led to their functional relevance being underestimated or even questioned. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, has sparked a significant increase in glycan research, underscoring their vital role in viral pathogenesis and immune responses. In my presentation, we will journey into the world of glycans, exploring their biological significance and presence across various cells. I will particularly focus on how molecular simulations, a cornerstone of my research, can unravel the intricate dynamics of glycans. Offering an excellent blend of length and time resolutions, these simulations can provide unique insights into the functional mechanisms of glycans, thereby enriching our understanding of fundamental biological processes. Additionally, I will address the potential challenges one may face. Importantly, advancements in glycan research are not only deepening our knowledge of structural biology but are also setting the stage for novel applications expected to emerge in the near future.

NCBR Seminar Series

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