With support from the Chemical Measurement and Imaging Program in the Division of Chemistry, Professor Elyssia Gallagher and her group at Baylor University are developing new methods to study the structures and changes of glycans - chains of carbohydrates that are involved in many biological processes, including molecular recognition, cellular signaling, and immune responses. The methods being developed by the Gallagher group will provide new tools to correlate the structures of glycans with their biological functions. The Gallagher group is also implementing a comprehensive educational plan designed to increase teacher competency in chemistry. K-12 science teachers need continued training in high-level content and active-learning science pedagogy so that they can teach contemporary science in ways that engage student interest. Dr. Gallagher and her group are hosting summer workshops to introduce K-12 teachers to advanced chemistry concepts and to develop active-learning activities and lesson plans for broad dissemination.
Hydrogen/deuterium exchange-mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) has become a standard method for analyzing protein dynamics and binding interactions. However, exchange rates of glycan hydroxyls are on the order of microseconds to milliseconds ? faster than those typical for conventional HDX studies. The Gallagher group is developing and validating rapid, reproducible HDX-MS methods for accurately characterizing glycan structures and dynamics. Specifically, the Gallagher group is developing and utilizing rapid HDX during electrospray ionization (referred to as in-ESI HDX) coupled to ion mobility and tandem MS, to separate and identify carbohydrate and glycan isomers. They are also applying in-ESI HDX-MS to monitor changes in glycan dynamics when present in glycoconjugates. The reproducible methods can monitor exchange on the timescale needed to enable analysis of the structural and biological properties of glycans and glycoconjugates.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.