Chi-Huey Wong Shows How Important are Glycan Microarrays for Immunity

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Recent developments in microarray technology are revolutionizing analysis of GBP glycan interactions

It took several decades for scientists to discover that the host’s immunity is regulated by a complicated array of factors. Glycan binding proteins (GBPs) seem to be playing the most important part, and this means the earliest studies tried to decipher their binding specificity. Test glycans were scarce and this made the research more difficult. Chemist Chi-Huey Wong, a distinguished research fellow at Academia Sinica in Taiwan and currently the Scripps Family Chair Professor of Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute, discussed recent developments in microarray technology that are revolutionizing analysis of GBP glycan interactions and granting scientists a new understanding of the role of GBPs in host immunity.

“We were one of the three groups to report this new method in 2002 for the high-throughput analysis of protein-sugar interaction,” Wong said of his research team at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, California, where he currently is the Scripps Family Chair Professor of Chemistry. “This method can be used to develop devices for the rapid detection of proteins that recognize sugars; e.g. for the differentiation of hemagglutinins from influenza subtypes and for the analysis of cell-surface glycans interacting with glycan binding proteins. Its most recent application was to the analysis of HIV antibodies isolated from patients in order to identify the sugar structures recognized by the antibodies, and the unique or non-self glycans identified could be used as antigens to develop carbohydrate-based HIV vaccines.” The entirety of the study using Chi-Huey Wong’s method for the analysis of protein-sugar interaction can be read in the Journal of American Chemistry Society, entitled Unprecedented role of hybrid N-glycans as ligands for HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies, and “Oligosaccharide synthesis and translational innovation” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 3735-54.

Chi-Huey Wong also discussed a new technique for adding glycans to cells and screening the interactions between glycans and proteins that was recently discovered by his colleagues at TSRI. Their study, Cell-Based Glycan Arrays for Probing Glycan-Glycan Binding Protein Interactions, was published in Nature Communications and sheds further light on the roles of glycans in human diseases, including cancers. “Here, we report a fast and cost-effective method for the assembly of cell-based glycan arrays to probe glycan-glycan binding protein interactions directly on the cell surface,” said Peng Wu, Ph.D., the senior author of the study. “Scientists have been trying to make arrays that every researcher interested in glycans can access in their own labs for years. We’ve not only done it, but we’ve done it in a way that’s very easy.” Wong further explained that the patterns of glycans and glycan-binding proteins on a cell’s membrane can differentiate cancer cells from healthy cells, control cells’ roles in development, and contribute to diverse interactions between adult cells.

Chi-Huey Wong, Ph.D. is a member of Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the United States National Academy of Sciences. He currently is Scripps Family Chair Professor of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, where he and his team have published numerous studies, including widely-cited research on the development of carbohydrate-based vaccines, homogenous antibody glycoforms as better therapeutics, and improved methods for carbohydrate and glycoprotein synthesis.

Chi-Huey Wong On the Importance of Glycan Microarrays for Understanding Immunity:

Chi-Huey Wong Examines Methods of Automation in Oligosaccharides Synthesis:

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Name: CHW
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Organization: Chi-Huey Wong