Computational glycan engineering
My current research focus lies on the engineering of protein glycosylation. Most secreted proteins in a cell (including those expressed in industrial applications, such as hormones and antibodies) receive sugar residues during their maturation – a process called glycosylation. These sugars confer critical attributes to the protein, such as its stability or solubility and can critically affect its interaction with other proteins.
However, unlike the amino acid sequence, which is relatively easy to engineer because we know the genetic code, glycosylation is hard to engineer because the type of sugar modification that the protein receives does not follow a simple code.
In collaboration with the Center for Biosustainability (Denmark) I work on computer models of glycosylation and explore their applicability by studying glycosylation in Chinese Hamster Ovary cells – the primary cell factory for biopharmaceutical production. The goal is to utilize these models to rationally design the glycosylation of any secreted protein of interest.
contact: pspahn at eng dot ucsd dot edu