A public lecture by Professor Anne Dell CBE FRS FMedSci, Division of Molecular Biosciences, Imperial College, London.
Cells from all domains of life are shrouded in a sugar-rich layer called the glycocalyx. Acting as “identity tags”, polymers of sugars (called glycans) within the glycocalyx help to control the social and anti-social behaviour of cells. They do this by engaging with glycan-binding proteins (lectins) on other cells to mediate adhesive and signalling events. Such recognition is central to all cell-cell communication.
This talk will focus on how the powerful analytical technique of mass spectrometry can help solve mysteries involving sugar-recognition. In partnership with collaborators worldwide, Professor Dell seeks to determine the biological functions which follow from the intimate molecular interactions of glycans and their lectin partners. She will exemplify the mass spectrometric technologies with accounts of some of these collaborations.
She will address questions such as: How does a parasite camouflage itself against its host immune system? Why are developing foetuses not detected and rejected as “foreign” by their mothers? What are the molecules on the surface of the human egg that engage with the sperm when fertilisation is triggered?
How do pathogens such as the influenza virus specifically infect a target cell? How do defensive white blood cells circulating in the bloodstream know when and where to enter diseased tissues to fight infection? What are the biomedical consequences of mutations in glyco-genes?
Cost: Free. RSVP to [email protected]