March 1, 2018
Abstract: Carbohydrates add a level of diversity across all forms of life that is unparalleled by the information content of nucleic acids and proteins. The lack of a simple template to translate aglycan code into defined sugar structures contributes to this complexity and provides a challenge for efforts aimed at the production of biologically important glycans and glycoconjugates. With the discovery of glycoprotein synthesis in bacteria and functional transfer of glycosylation pathways between species, Escherichia coli cells have become a tractable host for understanding glycosylation and the underlying glycan code of living cells. Moreover, efforts to manipulate the pathways from sugar nucleotides to glycolipids to glycoproteins have transformed E. coli into a living factory for scalable, bottom-up production of complex glycoconjugates by design. Here, I will discuss our efforts to develop E. coli for the biosynthesis of a diverse array of glycan structures, which can be used to tailor the activity, stability, half-life, and immunogenicity of a given biopharmaceutical. I will also discuss our efforts to unify protein glycosylation in E. coli with the advanced tools of protein engineering such as cell surface and phage display technologies. The result is a powerful new way to engineer the enzymes, pathways, end-products, and genomes of glycoengineered bacteria for creating the next generation of protein therapeutics and vaccines for a wide range of human diseases.
Bio: Professor DeLisa received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1996; a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 2001; and did postdoctoral work at the University of Texas-Austin, Department of Chemical Engineering. DeLisa joined the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University as an assistant professor in 2003. He was promoted to associate professor in 2009 and to full professor in 2013. In addition, he recently served as a Gastprofessur at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) in the Institut für Mikrobiologie. DeLisa has received several awards for his work including an NSF CAREER award (2005), a NYSTAR Watson Young Investigator award (2004), a Beckman Foundation Young Investigator award (2005), an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator award (2006), a NYSTAR Distinguished Faculty Award (2007), a Cornell Provost's Award for Distinguished Scholarship (2009), and the American Chemical Society BIOT division Young Investigator award (2010). He was also named as one of the top 35 young innovators (TR35) by MIT's Technology Review (2005), was selected as the Allan P. Colburn Memorial Lecturer at the University of Delaware (2009), and was chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Wiley-Blackwell Biotechnology and Bioengineering Daniel I.C. Wang award (2008), which honors a distinguished young researcher in this field. Most recently, he was selected to the IDA/DARPA Defense Science Study Group (2014-15) and elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2014). Professor DeLisa's research focuses on understanding and controlling the molecular mechanisms underlying protein biogenesis -- folding and assembly, membrane translocation and post-translational modifications -- in the complex environment of a living cell. His contributions to science and engineering include the invention of numerous commercially important technologies for facilitating the discovery, design and manufacturing of human drugs and seminal discoveries in the areas of cellular protein folding and protein translocation.