The glycan (carbohydrate) components of the glycoproteins and glycolipids that adorn the surfaces of all eukaryotic cells, as well as the secreted glycoproteins produced by these cells, interact with glycan binding proteins to mediate cellular processes that include differentiation, activation and migration of immune cells, quality control in protein folding, and regulation of protein composition at the cell surface. Despite the importance of these processes, molecular level descriptions of the regulation of glycan synthesis, the influence of glycans on glycoprotein structure, and the functional responses of cells to protein-glycan interactions remain at their infancy. In part this reflects the significant challenges presented by glycan structural diversity and by the complexity of cellular responses to the varied glycan presentations found at diverse biological interfaces. A key to overcoming these challenges is the cooperation of researchers with skills of sufficient diversity to allow the formulation of comprehensive solutions. This proposal requests funding for a series of workshops (two per year), one general meeting, and a networking infrastructure, that will promote the interaction of researchers with these diverse skills in order to solve challenging problems in glycoscience. The communication network and workshop structure proposed here is built on the successful experience of the Consortium for Functional Glycomics (CFG), an entity funded by a "Glue Grant" for the last ten years, and its pool of now more than 500 participating investigators. The proposed workshops will broaden the scope of glycoscience investigations and facilitate the formation of new research teams to address major issues of importance to human health.
The carbohydrate moieties (glycans) of glycoproteins and glycolipids mediate a wide variety of processes essential to human health. Yet, the mechanisms by which this occurs are poorly understood. A major obstacle to enhanced understanding lies in the complexity of the systems and the diverse skills needed to deal with this complexity. The proposed workshops and investigator networking system seek to bring together teams of investigators with the proper skills to discuss and solve health related problems rooted in glycan-biomolecule interactions, as well as to engage new investigators in this area of research.