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24 Feb 2022

Dr Nichollas Scott awarded Mizutani Foundation for Glycoscience research grant

A research team lead by University of Melbourne Dr Nichollas Scott, a Laboratory Head at the Doherty Institute, has been awarded an Mizutani Foundation Research Grant to study glycosylation targeting in bacterial systems.

Awarded to support studies in glycobiology, Dr Scott and his co-applicant Professor Koomey from the University of Oslo, Norway, were just one of 14 successful research teams globally to receive a grant.

Glycobiology is an area of research which studies the role of sugars in biological systems. Within this area of study glycosylation, the chemical addition of sugars to proteins, is increasingly recognised as an important protein modification in microbial physiology as well as a powerful tool that can be harnessed for vaccine therapies.

Over the last decade, great strides have been made identifying species that have the capacity for protein glycosylation, yet our understanding of which proteins are targeted for glycosylation is far more limited.

“The grant is based on the exciting discovery that the key enzyme used to glycosylate proteins within the Neisserial genus of bacteria, pglO, has discrete and different targeting specificities between species,” Dr Scott explained.

“With the support of the Mizutani foundation this grant will allow us to improve our understanding of the targets and mechanisms governing glycoprotein targeting within Neisserial pathogens such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the cause of gonorrhoea.”

By understanding the differences in targeting specificities this work will improve our understanding of how glycosylation shapes bacterial pathogenesis as well as how we can use these enzymes to create novel glycoproteins such as glycoconjugate vaccines.

“The support of this grant means a lot to me as its recognition of the hard work the lab has been doing over the last few years improving how we study bacterial glycosylation,” Dr Scott said.