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Synthetic Biology: Engineered Bacteria

Researchers have devised a way to attach sugars to proteins using unique biological and chemical methods. This means that large quantities of different glycoproteins can be generated for various medical and biological studies.

The E. coli bacterium produces a protein to which a sugar is attached using an engineered glycosylation machinery. Outside the cell, enzymes trim off the monosaccharide. Other chemically synthesized sugars are then attached. (Diagram: F. Schwarz / ETH Zurich)

When the intestinal bacterium E. coli and the diarrheal pathogen Campylobacter work together, it does not have to result in serious illness. Rather, when biologists and chemists team to use the product of this bacterial collaboration, it opens up a whole new technology with potential pharmaceutical applications. Now, the PhD student Flavio Schwarz from Professor Markus Aebi's group at the Institute of Microbiology of ETH-Zurich and researchers from the University of Maryland have developed a new method for producing glycoproteins.
 
 

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