Glycobiology and fungal proteins

Glycobiology studies structure, synthesis, role and evolution of carbohydrates in biological systems.  Carbohydrates are important molecules of life that provide incredible complexity to interactions between cells in an organism and between organisms. The group of proteins that mediate molecular interactions through carbohydrates are called lectins.  Higher fungi have been shown to be a rich source of proteins with unique features that distinguish them from similar proteins from other sources. We have identified and characterized several classes of proteins with focus on novel protease inhibitors and lectins from different higher fungi species. We use these interesting proteins as tools to study:

  • molecular interactions involved in bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation,
  • molecular interactions of these proteins with cancer cells and cells of the immune system,
  • how these proteins affect growth and development of major invasive insect pests.

Our goal is to investigate their potential to modify crucial molecular interactions and apply our findings to target applications in human and veterinary medicine, agriculture, bioprocessing and pharmaceutical industry.
We believe that glycans are at the forefront of molecular interactions and that using fungal proteins will help us better understand the underlying molecular mechanisms of actions, which can offer new insights for development of new strategies to:

  • combat the occurrence of antibiotic resistance (AMR),
  • develop cancer immunotherapy, and
  • develop biopesticides against an increasing number of invasive alien crop pests.


Prof. Dr. Markus Künzler, Institute of Microbiology, ETH Zürich
Dr. Annabelle Varrot, CERMAV-CNRS Grenoble, France
Dr. Mario Schubert, Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Salzburg, Austria
Prof. Paola Cescutti, Department of Life Sciences, University of Trieste, Italy
Prof. Claire Veneault-Fourrey, Université de Lorraine, INRA, France
Dr Jonathan Plett, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia
Dr Paul J. Hensbergen, Center for Proteomics and Metabolomics, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands
Dr. Inga Matijošytė, Vilnius University Life Science Center, Vilnius, Lithuania
Prof. Iain Wilson, Department of Chemistry, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
Dr Stefan Toepfer, CABI, c/o Plant Protection and Soil Conservation Directorate, Hodmezovasarhely, Hungary
Dr. Anja Klančnik, Department of Food Science and Technology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dr. Dušan Turk, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular and Structural Biology, Jožef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dr Jaka Razinger, Plant Protection Department, Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dr Janez Prešern, Animal Production Department, Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dr Nada Žnidaršič, Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dr Ana Rotter, Marine Biology Station, National Institute of Biology, Piran, Slovenia

Selected publications