Publication in: Spring 2023 Issue

Anti-Adhesion Carbohydrates for Prevention of Biofilm Formation
Molly Austin
Faculty Mentor(s):
Caitlin McMahon
Abstract / Summary:
Antibiotic resistance is a rapidly growing concern, making it increasingly important to develop new ways to treat bacterial infections. Anti-virulence strategies focus on disarming bacteria rather than killing them, putting less selective pressure on the bacteria and making it less likely bacteria will become resistant to the treatments. Virulence factors, the targets of anti-virulence, are tools that bacteria use to aid in the infection of the host. One virulence factor is the formation of biofilms, which occurs when lectins on the surface of bacteria bind to carbohydrates on the host cell. This research aims to synthesize carbohydrates with a strong binding affinity for bacterial lectins to inhibit the adhesion process. The GafD and F17G lectins are found on strains of Escherichia coli bacteria that cause diarrheal illness and bind to N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc),. Derivatives of GlcNAc have been synthesized to use as inhibitors for bacterial adhesion. To synthesize derivatives, GlcNAc pentaacetate is used to allow for selective modification of the anomeric position by glycosidation with various alcohols. The acetate-protecting groups are then removed to yield the final product. Benzyl, phenyl, hexyl, butyl, and dodecyl glycosides have been successfully synthesized. Derivatives will be tested for inhibitory potential in competitive binding assays with GlcNAc and purified GafD protein.
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