Glycoproteins are key molecules in our immune system. Glycosylation, the attachment of complex carbohydrates to proteins, is namely involved in a plethora of important immune processes including cell maturation, cell adhesion and recognition, and receptor binding and activation. The heterogenous glycans, however, remain difficult to study leaving a critical gap in our understanding of the glycobiology underpinning our immune system. In this seminar I will 1) briefly highlight new mass spectrometry-based strategies recently developed by our group to study protein glycosylation with site-, protein- and cell-specific resolution at the system-wide level (Kawahara et al, Nat Methods, 2021, Kawahara et al., Mol Cell Proteomics 2020), 2) show how these strategies helped us to uncover the glycan remodelling associated with monocyte-to-macrophage differentiation (Hinneburg et al., Glycobiology, 2020) and discover new glycosignatures of immune cells infiltrating the complex tumor microenvironment (Kawahara et al., Mol Cell Proteomics, 2020) and 3) present recent data of the immunoglycopeptides derived from SARS-CoV-2 spike protein presented by human leukocyte antigen class II (HLA-II) on monocyte-derived dendritic cells (Parker et al., Cell Reports, 2021). These efforts improve our understanding of the fundamental glycobiology underpinning our immune system and open new exciting opportunities for vaccine design, diagnostics and therapeutic applications.


Dr Rebeca Kawahara is a Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Fellow (2019-22) at the Glycoimmunology group in the Department of Molecular Sciences, Macquarie University. She earned her PhD degree in Functional and Molecular Biology in 2015 from University of Campinas, Brazil and completed two postdoctoral positions with a focus on molecular cancer research at University of Sao Paulo, Brazil (2015-17) and glycoimmunology in the group of Dr Morten Thaysen-Andersen at Macquarie University (2017-18). Her current focus is to understand how protein N-glycosylation modulates the tumour microenvironment and impacts the immune- and cancer-related processes in colorectal cancer. 

About School research seminars

Seminars cover all aspects of chemistry and molecular biosciences and are delivered by visiting national and international academics. PhD completion seminars are also incorporated into the program.

Seminars are usually held in person and via zoom. All are welcome to attend.