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  1. Abstract

    People living with HIV (PLWH) experience increased vulnerability to premature aging and inflammation-associated comorbidities, even when HIV replication is suppressed by antiretroviral therapy (ART). However, the factors associated with this vulnerability remain uncertain. In the general population, alterations in theN-glycans on IgGs trigger inflammation and precede the onset of aging-associated diseases. Here, we investigate the IgGN-glycans in cross-sectional and longitudinal samples from 1214 women and men, living with and without HIV. PLWH exhibit an accelerated accumulation of pro-aging-associated glycan alterations and heightened expression of senescence-associated glycan-degrading enzymes compared to controls. These alterations correlate with elevated markers of inflammation and the severity of comorbidities, potentially preceding the development of such comorbidities. Mechanistically, HIV-specific antibodies glycoengineered with these alterations exhibit a reduced ability to elicit anti-HIV Fc-mediated immune activities. These findings hold potential for the development of biomarkers and tools to identify and prevent premature aging and comorbidities in PLWH.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2025
  2. Brennan, Richard Gerald (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT <p>Microbial extracellular proteins and metabolites provide valuable information concerning how microbes adapt to changing environments. In cyanobacteria, dynamic acclimation strategies involve a variety of regulatory mechanisms, being ferric uptake regulator proteins as key players in this process. In the nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium<italic>Anabaena</italic>sp. strain PCC 7120, FurC (PerR) is a global regulator that modulates the peroxide response and several genes involved in photosynthesis and nitrogen metabolism. To investigate the possible role of FurC in shaping the extracellular environment of<italic>Anabaena</italic>, the analysis of the extracellular metabolites and proteins of a<italic>furC</italic>-overexpressing variant was compared to that of the wild-type strain. There were 96 differentially abundant proteins, 78 of which were found for the first time in the extracellular fraction of<italic>Anabaena</italic>. While these proteins belong to different functional categories, most of them are predicted to be secreted or have a peripheral location. Several stress-related proteins, including PrxA, flavodoxin, and the Dps homolog All1173, accumulated in the exoproteome of<italic>furC</italic>-overexpressing cells, while decreased levels of FurA and a subset of membrane proteins, including several export proteins and<italic>amiC</italic>gene products, responsible for nanopore formation, were detected. Direct repression by FurC of some of those genes, including<italic>amiC1</italic>and<italic>amiC2,</italic>could account for odd septal nanopore formation and impaired intercellular molecular transfer observed in the<italic>furC</italic>-overexpressing variant. Assessment of the exometabolome from both strains revealed the release of two peptidoglycan fragments in<italic>furC</italic>-overexpressing cells, namely 1,6-anhydro-N-acetyl-β-D-muramic acid (anhydroMurNAc) and its associated disaccharide (β-D-GlcNAc-(1-4)-anhydroMurNAc), suggesting alterations in peptidoglycan breakdown and recycling.</p><sec><title>IMPORTANCE

    Cyanobacteria are ubiquitous photosynthetic prokaryotes that can adapt to environmental stresses by modulating their extracellular contents. Measurements of the organization and composition of the extracellular milieu provide useful information about cyanobacterial adaptive processes, which can potentially lead to biomimetic approaches to stabilizing biological systems to adverse conditions.Anabaenasp. strain PCC 7120 is a multicellular, nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium whose intercellular molecular exchange is mediated by septal junctions that traverse the septal peptidoglycan through nanopores. FurC (PerR) is an essential transcriptional regulator inAnabaena, which modulates the response to several stresses. Here, we show thatfurC-overexpressing cells result in a modified exoproteome and the release of peptidoglycan fragments. Phenotypically, important alterations in nanopore formation and cell-to-cell communication were observed. Our results expand the roles of FurC to the modulation of cell-wall biogenesis and recycling, as well as in intercellular molecular transfer.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 13, 2025
  3. Abstract

    Despite the recent progress on the solution-phase enzymatic synthesis of heparan sulfate (HS) and chondroitin sulfate (CS), solid-phase enzymatic synthesis has not been fully investigated. Here, we describe the solid-phase enzymatic synthesis of HS and CS backbone oligosaccharides using specialized linkers. We demonstrate the use of immobilized HS linker to synthesize CS, and the use of immobilized CS linker to synthesize HS. The linkers were then digested with chondroitin ABCase and heparin lyases, respectively, to obtain the products. Our findings uncover a potential approach for accelerating the synthesis of structurally homogeneous HS and CS oligosaccharides.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2025
  4. Abstract

    SARS-CoV-2 infection causes spike-dependent fusion of infected cells with ACE2 positive neighboring cells, generating multi-nuclear syncytia that are often associated with severe COVID. To better elucidate the mechanism of spike-induced syncytium formation, we combine chemical genetics with 4D confocal imaging to establish the cell surface heparan sulfate (HS) as a critical stimulator for spike-induced cell-cell fusion. We show that HS binds spike and promotes spike-induced ACE2 clustering, forming synapse-like cell-cell contacts that facilitate fusion pore formation between ACE2-expresing and spike-transfected human cells. Chemical or genetic inhibition of HS mitigates ACE2 clustering, and thus, syncytium formation, whereas in a cell-free system comprising purified HS and lipid-anchored ACE2, HS stimulates ACE2 clustering directly in the presence of spike. Furthermore, HS-stimulated syncytium formation and receptor clustering require a conserved ACE2 linker distal from the spike-binding site. Importantly, the cell fusion-boosting function of HS can be targeted by an investigational HS-binding drug, which reduces syncytium formation in vitro and viral infection in mice. Thus, HS, as a host factor exploited by SARS-CoV-2 to facilitate receptor clustering and a stimulator of infection-associated syncytium formation, may be a promising therapeutic target for severe COVID.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  5. Abstract

    Proteoglycans are core proteins associated with carbohydrate/sugar moieties that are highly variable in disaccharide composition, which dictates their function. These carbohydrates are named glycosaminoglycans, and they can be attached to proteoglycans or found free in tissues or on cell surfaces. Glycosaminoglycans such as hyaluronan, chondroitin sulfate, dermatan sulfate, keratan sulfate, and heparin/heparan sulfate have multiple functions including involvement in inflammation, immunity and connective tissue structure, and integrity. Heparan sulfate is a highly sulfated polysaccharide that is abundant in the periodontium including alveolar bone. Recent evidence supports the contention that heparan sulfate is an important player in modulating interactions between damage associated molecular patterns and inflammatory receptors expressed by various cell types. The structure of heparan sulfate is reported to dictate its function, thus, the utilization of a homogenous and structurally defined heparan sulfate polysaccharide for modulation of cell function offers therapeutic potential. Recently, a chemoenzymatic approach was developed to allow production of many structurally defined heparan sulfate carbohydrates. These oligosaccharides have been studied in various pathological inflammatory conditions to better understand their function and their potential application in promoting tissue homeostasis. We have observed that specific size and sulfation patterns can modulate inflammation and promote tissue maintenance including an anabolic effect in alveolar bone. Thus, new evidence provides a strong impetus to explore heparan sulfate as a potential novel therapeutic agent to treat periodontitis, support alveolar bone maintenance, and promote bone formation.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 24, 2024
  6. Abstract

    Every animal secretes mucus, placing them among the most diverse biological materials. Mucus hydrogels are complex mixtures of water, ions, carbohydrates, and proteins. Uncertainty surrounding their composition and how interactions between components contribute to mucus function complicates efforts to exploit their properties. There is substantial interest in commercializing mucus from the garden snail,Cornu aspersum, for skincare, drug delivery, tissue engineering, and composite materials.C. aspersumsecretes three mucus—one shielding the animal from environmental threats, one adhesive mucus from the pedal surface of the foot, and another pedal mucus that is lubricating. It remains a mystery how compositional differences account for their substantially different properties. Here, we characterize mucus proteins, glycosylation, ion content, and mechanical properties that could be used to provide insight into structure-function relationships through an integrative “mucomics” approach. We identify macromolecular components of these hydrogels, including a previously unreported protein class termed Conserved Anterior Mollusk Proteins (CAMPs). Revealing differences betweenC. aspersummucus shows how considering structure at all levels can inform the design of mucus-inspired materials.

     
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  7. Abstract

    Berries from the European Mistletoe (Viscum album) possess a sticky tissue called viscin that facilitates adhesion and germination onto host trees. Recent studies of viscin have demonstrated its adhesive capacity on a range of natural and synthetic surfaces including wood, skin, metals, and plastic. Yet, the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, an investigation of the adhesive performance of mistletoe viscin is performed, demonstrating its hygroscopic nature and ability to self‐heal following adhesive failure. It is identified that adhesion originates from a water‐soluble adhesive component that can be extracted, isolated, and characterized independently. Lap shear mechanical testing indicates that the mistletoe adhesive extract (MAE) outperforms native viscin tissue, as well as gum arabic and arabinogalactan—common plant‐based adhesives. Furthermore, humidity uptake experiments reveal that MAE can reversibly absorb nearly 100% of its mass in water from the atmosphere. In‐depth spectroscopic and mass spectrometry investigations reveal a composition consisting primarily of an atypical arabinogalactan, with additional sugar alcohols. Finally, several proof‐of‐concept applications are demonstrated using MAE for hygro‐responsive reversible adhesion between various surfaces including skin, plastic, PDMS, and paper, revealing that MAE holds potential as a biorenewable and reusable adhesive for applications in cosmetics, packaging, and potentially, tissue engineering.

     
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  8. Abstract

    Brucella abortusis a facultative, intracellular, zoonotic pathogen that resides inside macrophages during infection. This is a specialized niche whereB. abortusencounters various stresses as it navigates through the macrophage. In order to survive this harsh environment,B. abortusutilizes post‐transcriptional regulation of gene expression through the use of small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs). Here, we characterize aBrucellasRNAs called MavR (forMurF‐andvirulence‐regulating sRNA), and we demonstrate that MavR is required for the full virulence ofB. abortusin macrophages and in a mouse model of chronic infection. Transcriptomic and proteomic studies revealed that a major regulatory target of MavR is MurF. MurF is an essential protein that catalyzes the final cytoplasmic step in peptidoglycan (PG) synthesis; however, we did not detect any differences in the amount or chemical composition of PG in the ΔmavRmutant. A 6‐nucleotide regulatory seed region within MavR was identified, and mutation of this seed region resulted in dysregulation of MurF production, as well as significant attenuation of infection in a mouse model. Overall, the present study underscores the importance of sRNA regulation in the physiology and virulence ofBrucella.

     
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  9. Abstract Introduction

    The endothelial glycocalyx regulates vascular permeability, inflammation, and coagulation, and acts as a mechanosensor. The loss of glycocalyx can cause endothelial injury and contribute to several microvascular complications and, therefore, may promote diabetic retinopathy. Studies have shown a partial loss of retinal glycocalyx in diabetes, but with few molecular details of the changes in glycosaminoglycan (GAG) composition. Therefore, the purpose of our study was to investigate the effect of hyperglycemia on GAGs of the retinal endothelial glycocalyx.

    Methods

    GAGs were isolated from rat retinal microvascular endothelial cells (RRMECs), media, and retinas, followed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry assays. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to study mRNA transcripts of the enzymes involved in GAG biosynthesis.

    Results and Conclusions

    Hyperglycemia significantly increased the shedding of heparan sulfate (HS), chondroitin sulfate (CS), and hyaluronic acid (HA). There were no changes to the levels of HS in RRMEC monolayers grown in high-glucose media, but the levels of CS and HA decreased dramatically. Similarly, while HA decreased in the retinas of diabetic rats, the total GAG and CS levels increased. Hyperglycemia in RRMECs caused a significant increase in the mRNA levels of the enzymes involved in GAG biosynthesis (including EXTL-1,2,3, EXT-1,2, ChSY-1,3, and HAS-2,3), with these increases potentially being compensatory responses to overall glycocalyx loss. Both RRMECs and retinas of diabetic rats exhibited glucose-induced alterations in the disaccharide compositions and sulfation of HS and CS, with the changes in sulfation including N,6-O-sulfation on HS and 4-O-sulfation on CS.

     
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  10. Abstract

    The glycosylation on the spike (S) protein of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, modulates the viral infection by altering conformational dynamics, receptor interaction and host immune responses. Several variants of concern (VOCs) of SARS-CoV-2 have evolved during the pandemic, and crucial mutations on the S protein of the virus have led to increased transmissibility and immune escape. In this study, we compare the site-specific glycosylation and overall glycomic profiles of the wild type Wuhan-Hu-1 strain (WT) S protein and five VOCs of SARS-CoV-2: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron. Interestingly, both N- and O-glycosylation sites on the S protein are highly conserved among the spike mutant variants, particularly at the sites on the receptor-binding domain (RBD). The conservation of glycosylation sites is noteworthy, as over 2 million SARS-CoV-2 S protein sequences have been reported with various amino acid mutations. Our detailed profiling of the glycosylation at each of the individual sites of the S protein across the variants revealed intriguing possible association of glycosylation pattern on the variants and their previously reported infectivity. While the sites are conserved, we observed changes in the N- and O-glycosylation profile across the variants. The newly emerged variants, which showed higher resistance to neutralizing antibodies and vaccines, displayed a decrease in the overall abundance of complex-type glycans with both fucosylation and sialylation and an increase in the oligomannose-type glycans across the sites. Among the variants, the glycosylation sites with significant changes in glycan profile were observed at both theN-terminal domain and RBD of S protein, with Omicron showing the highest deviation. The increase in oligomannose-type happens sequentially from Alpha through Delta. Interestingly, Omicron does not contain more oligomannose-type glycans compared to Delta but does contain more compared to the WT and other VOCs. O-glycosylation at the RBD showed lower occupancy in the VOCs in comparison to the WT. Our study on the sites and pattern of glycosylation on the SARS-CoV-2 S proteins across the VOCs may help to understand how the virus evolved to trick the host immune system. Our study also highlights how the SARS-CoV-2 virus has conserved bothN- andO- glycosylation sites on the S protein of the most successful variants even after undergoing extensive mutations, suggesting a correlation between infectivity/ transmissibility and glycosylation.

     
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