Designing Glycoprotein Films and Micelles to Capture and Remove Pathogens from Aqueous Suspensions

July 2012
Topics: Disease Transmission, Diseases, Epidemiology
Elaine H. Mullen, The MITRE Corporation
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This paper describes transparent, detergent-resistant glycoprotein films that have been developed to help characterize disease-causing pathogens, as well as to help prevent infection. Such films are coated on one face with oil, and on the opposite face with branching carbohydrates that bind to complementary adhesive proteins (lectins) on surfaces of pathogens and biotoxins. When agitated, glycoprotein films form stable, oil-filled micelles that float and sort by diameter within a vertical column of aqueous fluid. Glycoprotein film-coated micelles can be used to remove pathogens and biotoxins from contaminated fluids, and represent novel visualization tools that can be color-coded and used to detect the presence of lectin adhesins and hemagglutinins that bind to tissue-specific targets or "glycotopes" during the process of infection. Glycoprotein micelles coated with multivalent lectin molecules constitute another set of tools that bind to complementary carbohydrates on a variety of structures ranging from glycoprotein molecules to bacterial spore coats and animal cell membranes. These flexible structures offer an additional means of capturing and removing pathogens and biotoxin molecules from contaminated fluids and surfaces, and might also be applied to the study of glycosylation patterns on epithelial cells of human tissue.

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