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  RESEARCH ACTIVITY > Laboratory for the structural characterization and evaluation of biological and pharmacological properties of complex natural polysaccharides named glycosaminoglycans  
Laboratory for the structural characterization and evaluation of biological and pharmacological properties of complex natural polysaccharides named glycosaminoglycans

Research Group
Nicola Volpi Associate Professor of Biochemistry volpi@unimo.it

Background and specific aims
The complex carbohydrate macromolecules named glycosaminoglycans are represented by heparin, heparan sulfate, dermatan sulfate, chondroitin sulfates, hyaluronic acid and keratan sulfate and by their derivatives. They are characterized by a very heterogeneous structure, physico-chemical properties, and biological and pharmacological activities. These (macro)molecules have been evaluated for their structures, biological and pharmacological properties, in particular for their capacity to interact with many molecular and cellular systems.
Research projects

1. Glycobiology and Glycomics. Structure and functions of glycoconjugates, proteoglycans and complex polysaccharides.

2. SYSADOA drugs.

3. Biomaterials.

4. Production and purification of bacterial polysaccharides. Biotechnological approaches to produce natural complex polysaccharides for therapeutic applications.

5. Characterization of glycosaminoglycans in corneal stem cells in MCD subjects.

6. Characterization of glycosaminoglycans in hippocampal neurones and the astrocyte cell line U373:

7. Evaluation of dermal glycosaminoglycans as regulators of osmotically inactive skin sodium.

8. Fine characterization of glycosaminoglycans in a animal model of Alzheimer’s disease.

9. Fine characterization of glycosaminoglycans in human mitral and aortic valves.

10. Evaluation of structure and functions of invertebrate complex polysaccharides.
Facilities and equipment

The Department in which Prof. Nicola Volpi and Dr. Francesca Maccari perform their studies and researches is equipped with HPLC with UV and fluorimetric detectors and online ESI-MS for separation and characterization of macromolecules in size-exclusion chromatography, and of glycosaminoglycan disaccharides by strong anion-exchange chromatography. Capillary electroforesis for the determination of glycosaminoglycan unsaturated disaccharides. Electrophoretic chambers for SDS-PAGE electrophoresis, chambers for agarose-gel electrophoresis for the separation of various molecular mass proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans. Chambers for western blot analysis of proteoglycans by using specific antibodies. Radioactive room equipped for working with tritio and 35S. Room for cell coltures. Moreover, particular expensive and complex instruments such as mass spectrometers, X-ray difractometres and confocal microscopes are gathered in a single structure of the University, the Interdipartimental Centre of Big Instruments (www.cigs.unimore.it).

ESI-MS Analysis

HPLC separation of unsaturated disaccharides

FACE analysis of unsaturated disaccharides

NMR Spectrum

Recent pubblications
Capillary electrophoresis of complex natural polysaccharides - Volpi N., Maccari F., Linhardt R.J. - Electrophoresis ( 2008 )
Chondroitin C lyase [4.2.2.] is unable to cleave fructosylated sequences inside the partially fructosylated Escherichia coli K4 polymer. - Volpi N. - Glycoconjugate J. ( 2007 )
Mass spectrometry characterization of Escherichia coli K4 oligosaccharides from 2-mers to more than 20-mers. - Volpi N. - Rapid Comm. Mass Spectrometry ( 2007 )
The mobilization of osmotically inactive Na+ by growth and by dietary salt restriction in rats. - Schafflhuber M, Volpi N, Dahlmann A, Hilgers KF, Maccari F, Dietsch P, Wagner H, Luft FC, Eckardt K-U and Titze J. - Am. J. Physiol. Renal Physiol. ( 2007 )
On-line HPLC/ESI-MS separation and characterization of hyaluronan oligosaccharides from 2-mers to 40-mers. - Volpi N. - Analyt. Chem. ( 2007 )
Degradation of high-molar-mass hyaluronan by an oxidative system comprising ascorbate, Cu(II), and hydrogen peroxide: inhibitory action of antiinflammatory drugs - naproxen and acetylsalicylic acid. - Šoltés L., Stankovská M., Kogan G., Mendichi R., Volpi N., Sasinková V. and Gemeiner P. - J. Pharm. Biomed. Analysis ( 2007 )

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