Itzayana Cuellar, Branden Becham
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Malcolm Campbell
Although humans naturally synthesize full-length glycogen and many plants synthesize cellulose, chemically producing short glycogen and cellulose polymers in the laboratory is complex and often takes months. The goal of our research is to efficiently synthesize glycogen primers using the primer enzyme glycogenin and cellulose polymers with the enzyme cellulose synthase. Glycogen is large polymer of glucose that requires two protein enzymes. The first enzyme, glycogenin, assembles up to 10 glucose molecules to form a glycogen “primer” molecule. Glycogen synthase then uses the primer to synthesize the much larger glycogen molecule. Cellulose synthase does not require a primer enzyme and can synthesize polymers composed of hundreds of glucose molecules. In our study, we aimed to clone the human glycogenin gene and bacterial cellulose synthase and independently produce the enzymes in E. coli. We have confirmed the production of glycogenin. The focus of current work is visualizing glycogen primers on LC-MS and producing bacterial cellulose synthase. Our method to produce glycogen primers and cellulose will serve as the basis for better understanding the role of glucose-based polymers in various metabolic and biological processes.