Research Strategy

Figure 1

The Sasisekharan Lab has put forth efforts in building and applying various glycomics technologies. We put in place to tackle important problems in glycomics. Critically, we tackle fundamental aspects of glycan-protein interactions bringing diverse approaches to bear have been a chief area of focus for the group. We have studied glycan structure on the one hand (both glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and branched glycans) through the use of orthogonal analytical approaches (NMR, MS, enzymology etc.,). In a simultaneous and complementary effort, we developed approaches to describe protein-glycan interactions using structure-based tools developed by us, and experimental/heuristic approaches such as through conformational studies using NMR, as well as informatics platform. Finally, we directly probe important elements of glycan-protein interactions, such as specificity and affinity using a novel set of array and tissue-based studies.

Our lab originated our efforts with GAGs (such as heparin) to build the needed analytical and enzymatic tools with defined substrate-product profiles to understand their structure-function relationships. We also set out to develop distinct and novel tools to study glycans; tools which are uniquely suited to their chemical diversity as well as conformational plurality in the context of their protein-binding partner. These tools became core to our ability to investigate different glycan-protein model systems. To this end, as mentioned above, we developed a graph theory/network/informatics-based approach to investigate protein structure, especially in the context of glycan interactions.

It has became ever clearer to us that to truly understand glycan-protein interactions as a whole –given the ‘analog’ continuum of their interaction features – that we need to capture diverse sets of interactions to help us refine our strategy for this integrated (glycan and protein based) ‘glycomics tool’ building.