Mucin glycoproteins – a complex array of carbohydrate structures

Published on June 17, 2013

Stephen Carrington talks about work that he and collaborators are undertaking to try and interrogate the complex array of carbohydrate structures present on mucin glycoproteins.


These glycoproteins form part of the mucus gels that protect moist mucosal surfaces from microbial assault. Mucin glycoproteins can potentially act in two ways. Firstly, they can block the adhesins that are required for binding by harmful microbial pathogens to mucosal surfaces. Secondly, they can act as a food source for beneficial microbial colonisers that can compete with potential pathogens. We believe that these sugars represent a natural resource that can be mined for specific structures to be used to prevent harmful infections. This is because these structures represent the product of evolutionary drivers that lead to the construction of an effective barrier containing biologically engineered arrays of sugar structures that function in defense.

Carrington Group | University College Dublin, Ireland

Stephen Carrington has been Professor of Veterinary Anatomy at University College Dublin since 1999. He is a qualified veterinarian (Edinburgh University, 1979) and graduated with a PhD from Liverpool University in 1985. He leads an active research group involved in diverse projects mainly related to mucosal barrier function and reproductive biology. He is a Named Investigator on the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded Alimentary Glycoscience Research Cluster Project, an inter-institutional, multi-disciplinary consortium of academic and industrial researchers, which is exploring the role of gut glycosylation in host-microbe interactions.


The original research articles are published in the book Microbial Glycobiology and the journal Analytical Chemistry.

Carrington, S. D.; Clyne, M.; Reid, C. J.; FitzPatrick, E.; Corfield, A. P. Microbial Interaction with Mucus and Mucins. In Microbial Glycobiology; Moran, A.; Holst, O.; Brennan, P.; von Itzstein, M., Eds.; Academic Press: London, UK, 2009; pp 655–671. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-374546-0.00033-X

Kilcoyne, M.; Gerlach, J. Q.; Gough, R.; Gallagher, M. E.; Kane, M.; Carrington, S. D.; Joshi, L. Construction of a natural mucin microarray and interrogation for biologically relevant glyco-epitopes. Anal Chem. 2012, 84, 3330–3338. doi:10.1021/ac203404n

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