Professor Laura Kiessling, Professor of Biochemistry, at the University of Wisconsin - Madison

Professor Laura Kiessling, Professor of Biochemistry, at the University of Wisconsin - Madison
Date Range
Wed May 6th 2015, 4:15pm
Braun Lecture Hall
S.G. Mudd Building
Stanford University

“Us Versus Them: Targeting Microbial Cell Surface Glycosylation”

About the Seminar

The glycans displayed on mammalian cell surfaces can differ markedly from those on microbes. In principle, these differences in glycosylation could be distinguished by carbohydrate-binding proteins or lectins. We found that a human lectin, human intelectin-1 (hIntL-1), fails to bind known human glycan epitopes but rather interacts with multiple, distinct glycan epitopes found exclusively on microbes. To elucidate how this lectin binds diverse ligands, we determined its structure complexed with β-Galf. This structure reveals how this X-type lectin can coordinate a functional group common to many microbial glycans but yet avoid interaction with human glycans. Human IntL-1 recognition of different serotypes of the lung pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae indicates that the specificity observed for specific microbial glycans translates to intact bacteria–the lectin selectively marks specific serotypes. The selectivity of hIntL-1 suggests it functions in microbial surveillance, and that its recognition properties might be harnessed to yield new strategies for diagnostic or delivery agents that exploit its selectively for microbial glycans.

About the Speaker

Professor Laura Kiessling is the Steenbock Professor of Chemistry, Laurens Anderson Professor of Biochemistry and Director of the Keck Center for Chemical Genomics at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

She received her undergraduate training in Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There she conducted undergraduate research in organic synthesis with Professor Bill Roush. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Yale University where she worked with Stuart L. Schreiber on the synthesis of anti-tumor natural products. Her postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology in the research group of Peter B. Dervan led her to explore the recognition of duplex DNA through triple helix formation. She began her independent career in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991.

She is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Academy of Microbiology, and National Academy of Sciences. Laura's honors and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an ACS Frances P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal, a Harrison-Howe Award, an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, the Hudson Award in Carbohydrate Chemistry, the Alfred Bader Award in Bioorganic or Bioinorganic Chemistry, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She is also the founding editor-in-chief of ACS Chemical Biology.

Her interdisciplinary research interests focus on elucidating and exploiting the mechanisms of cell surface recognition processes, especially those involving protein-glycan interactions. Another major research interest is multivalency and its role in recognition, signal transduction, and direction of cell fate.

About our Sponsors

In continuation of support for education and research, Drs. Ravindra Nath (1942 - ), Padmavathy (1949 - ) and Kiran (1979 - ) Guthikonda established the Guthikonda Lectureship in Organic Chemistry at Stanford in 2010 in honor of all members of the Guthikonda family since 1754. Originally from Moparru Village in Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh State, India, Drs. Ravindra and Padmavathy came to the US so that Ravindra could pursue his PhD at Columbia University. After Columbia Ravindra Guthikonda had a successful career as a scientist at Merck. Padmavathy Guthikonda was a physician. Their son, Dr. Kiran Guthikonda (1979 - ), earned a PhD from Stanford and was advised by Justin Du Bois. He married Anita S. Guthikonda (1983 - ) a management information systems specialist, in 2012. They all live in Edison, NJ and are passionate about supporting education at all levels and have endowments at both Stanford and Columbia.