Interaction of Galectin-1 With Carbohydrates Examined

Peter Garrett '11 and Taylor Adams '11.
Peter Garrett '11 and Taylor Adams '11.
Galectin-1 is a small protein with big responsibility. Its over-expression is associated with treatment of inflammation-related diseases and muscular dystrophies.  Conversely, its under-expression is ideal for therapeutic measures against cancer and HIV development. The dual role it plays in the regulation of the immune system makes it a medical celebrity, especially when paired with its ligands.

Peter Garrett ’11 and Taylor Adams ’11 are researching galectin-1 this summer with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Nicole Snyder. They will study the factors that govern the interactions between galectin-1 and carbohydrate ligands in order to create a molecule that will act as an inhibitor for this protein.

Ligands are substances that bind to sites on target proteins through ionic bonds, hydrogen bonds, and Van der Waals forces. In particular, Garrett and Adams are searching for the carbohydrate ligands that bind to the CRD (Carbohydrate Recognizing Domain) of Galectin-1. They will gather their inferences about those ligands to make a molecule that will mitigate the effects of Galectin-1. Although their work is part of a larger study that involves senior thesis students, the two rising juniors are willing to take the next step toward finding the necessary inhibitor.

Most of their procedure will entail making sugars with one of the carbon atoms free to bind to other sugars. They will have biological testing done on their materials in Florida to create the inhibitor.

Both students say Snyder is one of the principal reasons they decided to stay on campus over the summer.

“She’s an amazing person – so friendly and accessible,” Garrett said. “She does a lot of work but it pays off.” He mentioned that Snyder is often in the lab until 11 p.m. or 12 a.m., so she is almost always available to assist students with their work or just chat. On top of that, she invites her students to dinner and movie nights.

Garrett is a licensed EMT and wants to go to school to be a surgeon. He says he has been on the biological track for a long time. Adams is a biology and chemistry double major with uncertain career plans, but like Garrett, research has always been interesting to him. He loves to be outdoors and plans on climbing Mt. Rainier in Washington at the end of the summer.
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