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A3 Glycomics in toxoplasmosis – Toxoplasma gondii glycans in innate immune recognition and their diagnostic potential (Seeberger/Lepenies)

Research Group: Prof. Dr. Peter Seeberger (Vaccine Glycobiology) and Dr. Bernd Lepenies (Glycoimmunology),
Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces
Address: Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces,Am Mühlenberg 1, 14476 Potsdam

Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Arnimallee 22, 14167 Berlin

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Peter H. Seeberger / Dr. Bernd Lepenies
Doctoral Researcher: Jonnel Jaurigue

Project Description

Infectious diseases caused by protozoan parasites are one of the greatest public health problems worldwide. The cell surface of protozoa contains a shell of complex glycolipids, including a high number of glycosylphosphatidylinositols (GPIs) in both protein-linked and non-protein-linked forms. However, the function of the GPI variations is largely unknown. Pathogen recognition by innate immunity is mediated through pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) are PRRs that recognize glycan structures on the surface of pathogens. Initial data indicate that CLRs are involved in immunity to parasitic diseases, including helminths and Leishmania. Still, little is known about the recognition of parasitic glycans by CLRs and their role in immunity during parasite infections.

The project aims at analyzing T. gondii innate recognition on the molecular level. Binding of T. gondii to CLRs will be investigated and distinct ligands will be identified by ligand fishing and the glycan array platform. To elucidate the role of CLRs during toxoplasmosis in vivo, relevant CLR-deficient mouse strains will be infected with T. gondii.

A second major part of the project focuses on the establishment of a diagnostic test for toxoplasmosis. To this end, glycan arrays will be prepared using synthetic T. gondii glycans and screening of human serum samples from toxoplasmosis patients will be performed to detect anti-glycan antibody levels. In conclusion, this project aims at gaining a deeper insight into the T. gondii glycobiology.

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