The evaluation of the chemical structure of glycoconjugates from microbial cell envelope is key to two interconnected pillars: i) to provide structural insights into the mechanisms governing microbial glycans’ recognition and binding by host cognate receptors and ii) to evaluate their contribute to the microbial cell survival as well as their interaction with host receptor(s).
The combined use of biophysical and chemical approaches including NMR spectroscopy, computational techniques and other physical-chemical methodologies is essential to unravel the structure, conformation and molecular recognition features of microbial glycoconjugates as well as their interaction with eukaryotic host.
In Gram negative bacteria, the external leaflet of the outer membrane (OM) is essentially covered by an important glycoconjugate, the lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which represents a bacterial signature and play an important role in any interaction of microbes with the external world. The chemical structures of LPS are highly strain-specific and play a central role in the recognition of both pathogenic and commensal bacteria by diverse eukaryotic hosts, including the recognition of rhizobia by legumes.
The detailed (bio)-molecular characterization of microbial glycoconjugates and a detailed molecular insights into the mechanisms that govern their interaction with host receptors is of primary importance to “tune” the bacterial cell surface initiation or suppression of inflammatory response. Various examples will be here described, with detailed description of the advantages and drawbacks of the application of the different methods and techniques.