Lectin Fingerprinting for Microbiome Profiling
Principal Investigator: Laura Kiessling, MIT
All microbes wear a carbohydrate coat. This coat can protect the microbe from environmental insults and serves as a unique molecular identifier (ID). Different types of microbes display distinct cell surface carbohydrates. Host organisms have evolved proteins that can “read” the carbohydrate IDs to distinguish between different types of microbes. This ID checking helps determine friend from foe. Our goal is to leverage these natural carbohydrate-binding proteins (lectins) to rapidly profile microbial populations. We envision that lectins can be used as diagnostics for individuals suffering from conditions in which microbial dysbiosis is an underlying factor, including inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s Disease.