The MacAlister lab

The posttranslational addition of sugar residues to protein backbones (a process called glycosylation) can have a profound impact on the structure and activity of the resulting glycoprotein. Though glycosylation occurs across all domains of life, the specific sugars and linkages involved and the proteins targeted for modification vary between taxonomic groups. Our lab focuses on understanding the role of gycoproteins in plants with particular emphasis on cell wall associated glycoproteins. The plant cell wall is largely composed of interlocking networks of glycans including cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin. Among the protein constituents of the wall are various enzymes along with the hydroxyproline-rich glycoproteins (HRGPs), a group of heavily glycosylated proteins with structural and signaling roles that remain largely elusive. Of particular interest to us is the evolution and the diversity of these proteins and their functions in the different cell types and organisms in which they are found. Understanding how these proteins function in the wall and in the context of the whole organism will open the way to improving production of biofuel from cell wall derived biomass.