The cellular and molecular interactions between parasites and their various hosts are crucial for completing the life cycle and are frequently mediated by the glycan (carbohydrate) moieties of glycoconjugates. The surface layers and excretory/secretory components of many parasites are typically rich in various glycoconjugate classes, often decorated with glycans or glycan elements distinct from those of the mammalian host. These glycoconjugates may be involved in various aspects of host-parasite biology. While some underlie immune evasion mechanisms and immune regulation that favor the parasite’s survival in infected hosts, other parasite glycoconjugates could be targets of a protective immune response. We apply analytical approaches such as mass spectrometry, UPLC and exoglycosidase sequencing to characterize the glycan repertoires that decorate filarial nematode proteins and lipids. Parallel studies identify the proteins to which N-glycans and O-glycans are appended and the nature of their site-specific glycosylation. In collaboration with the lab of Ron Hokke (Leiden, The Netherlands), we print parasite glycan arrays for screening infected patient serum to identify glycan elements recognized by host IgG and IgM.
Workflow for parasite glycomics.