Current Research
Chemical Tools and Strategies for Cell Surface Discoveries

Carolyn Bertozzi uses chemical tools to study biological processes. Bertozzi and her team’s research initially focused on the study of cell surface sugars, including glycolipids and glycoproteins. To image these sugars with microscopes, the team developed a tool called bioorthogonal chemistry which relies on pairs of chemical groups that want to react and form a bond with each other. Bioorthogonal refers to the fact that these partners do not interact or interfere with biology. Using the spotlight of bioorthogonal chemistry, the team revealed an as-yet-unknown cell surface sugar – glycoRNA. This approach is now used to study molecules such as proteins, DNA, and RNA in live cells and has potential utility as a drug delivery system for cancer therapeutics.

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