Dr. Matthew DeLisa “Adventures in Bacterial Glycobiology: Engineering Sweet

College of Environmental Science & Forestry
Dr. Matthew DeLisa
Associate Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Cornell University
“Adventures in Bacterial Glycobiology: Engineering Sweet
Solutions to Sticky Situations”
Friday – March 2, 2012
3:00 - 4:30PM
148 Baker Lab
Abstract: It has been suggested that life depends on 200-300 core biological processes, the vast
majority of which are accomplished by large heterogeneous protein assemblies commonly referred to as
machines. Unfortunately, the functional details of many cellular machines remain poorly understood. In
turn, this has hindered our ability to harness nature’s machines for tackling problems that cannot be solved
with natural systems. Therefore, the DeLisa laboratory is working to address this need by bridging
fundamental biological and chemical concepts with new approaches for interrogating and manipulating
biological machinery. Our research aims to engineer the protein machinery of simple bacteria for solving
complex problems in biology and medicine. We focus on the molecular machines of protein biosynthesis
both as a toolbox for the discovery, design and manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals and as targets for
reprogramming cellular physiology. One approach in our laboratory is to exploit untapped mechanistic
features of existing cellular machinery such as intrinsic protein quality control mechanisms that ensure
correct folding and assembly of native and non-native proteins. This approach is helping to illuminate
important structure-function relationships for protein machinery and is providing a basis by which the
machines themselves can be harnessed for producing novel biotechnological products. A second related
approach is to engineer microbial cells with unnatural protein machinery, thereby expanding the repertoire
of useful biological and chemical functions far beyond those bestowed by nature. This seminar will focus
on a discussion of how bacterial cells armed with entirely new functionalities for producing and
conjugating diverse polysaccharide structures are becoming a robust platform for the biosynthesis of
complex therapeutic proteins and vaccines.
Host: Dr. Christopher Nomura
Refreshments will be served
Faculty of Chemistry