Sialic acid-tastic in 2015

We are pleased to announce that two of our papers with valued collaborators on two aspects of sialic acid biology in Tannerella were published in autumn 2015.

Phansopa et al, describes characterisation of a novel SGNH hydrolase that cleaves acetyl-groups from di-acetylated sialic acids (Neu5,9 and Neu5,4) to allow access of sialidases.  This was a collaborative effort with the team from Ludger Ltd and should precede other big news on this collaboration.

Honma et al., describes the import of NanT sialic acid transporter in sialic acid uptake and intracellular survival in human cells and is the latest in a line of papers with Ashu Sharma from SUNY-at Buffalo.


Phansopa C, Kozak RP, Liew LP, Frey AM, Farmilo T, Parker JL, Kelly DJ, Emery RJ, Thomson RL, Royle L, Gardner RA, Spencer DI, Stafford GP (2015) Characterization of a sialate O-acetyl esterase (NanS) from the oral pathogen Tannerella forsythia that enhances sialic acid release by NanH its cognate sialidase. Biochem J. 2015 Sep 16. pii: BJ20150388

Honma K, Ruscitto A, Frey AM, Stafford GP, Sharma A. (2015) Sialic acid transporter NanT participates in Tannerella forsythia biofilm formation and survival on epithelial cells. Microb Pathog. 2015 Aug 28. pii: S0882-4010(15)00143-6. doi: 10.1016/j.micpath.2015.08.012.  

Congratulations Charlotte Green- Queen of ABC posters

Many congratulations to Charlotte Green whose poster on Re-engineering of the Bacterial flagellum for high efficiency secretion won the MedImmune sponsored poster prize at the inaugural Advanced Biomanufacturing Centre (ABC) meeting in Sheffield May 18-19th 2015.  She was commended on a clear visual poster- which you can see here with her certificate and poster looking very chuffed!  Well done Charlotte.

Graham also spoke at the meeting on our work on bacterial glycosidases and their potential in glycoanalytic pathways.

Well done to Karen Wood on organising a great meeting.

Zoe Megsons Fucosidase paper published

We are happy to see Zoe Megsons fucosidase paper published in virulence journal this week.  Not only is it our first paper with the group of Tina Schaeffer at BOKU, Vienna, it also characterises a novel GH29 enzyme from Tannerella that Zoe studied. Some of the work was conducted in Sheffield on her visit here last summer while we also supplied rNanH to complement her work.

You can read the paper via this link.

Kate wins OMIG poster prize in Amsterdam, Feb 2015

Congratulations to Kate Naylor, whose talk at the Oral Microbiology and Immunology Group

Postgraduate Prize meeting at ACTA in Amsterdam in February this year won the runner up prize from a strong field of 15 talks.

We were all amazed by the space-age facilities at ACTA, and look forward to similar upgrades in Sheffield!!

Congratulations also to Mohammed Zubidi for giving his first talk on oral prophage at an oral microbiology meeting while Andy also gave a talk on his work with sialidases.

Read more: Kate wins OMIG poster prize in Amsterdam, Feb 2015

Rebecca Lowry's Aeromonas paper published

Congratulations to Rebecca on the publication of her paper on Aeromonas cell length determination by the cryptic AHA_0618 gene.  This paper was a labour of love for all involved and showcases a real tangible amount of sweat all around.  The gene was previously thought to be involved in glycosylation of flagellin in Aeromonas, a hypothesis that this work disproves while also indicating that it may modify cell wall composition and this influence cell length.

you can read the full paper here:

Fully funded PhD project Available for Application- Deadline 15th Jan 2015

Investigation of the sialic acid uptake and harvesting system of a key periodontal pathogen

Several human pathogens and commensals living in the human gut and mouth utilise host-derived sugars that are present as glyco-conjugates on surface proteins of human cells. Pathogenic and other human-dwelling bacteria access these glycoprotein attached sugars via the action of dedicated glycosidases, glycan modifying enzymes and transport systems. Recent work in Sheffield has identified a novel sialic acid transport and harvesting system that is key to the ability of the important periodontal pathogen T. forsythia to harvest sialic acid from the human body and thus contributes to their virulence but which is present in several gut-dwelling anaerobes of the phylum Bacteroidetes (see references via this link).

The project will utilise a number of molecular, biochemical and structural techniques aimed at understanding the mechanism of the sialic acid transport and harvesting systems to aid development of novel therapies. You will join the research team of Dr Graham Stafford who are based in the Integrated BioSciences group in the School of Clinical Dentistry at the University of Sheffield. You will also work in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in the group of Prof Dave Kelly.

The studentship is fully funded at the UK-EU level and is available to take up immediately.

Read more: Fully funded PhD project Available for Application- Deadline 15th Jan 2015