John C Samuelson, MD, PhD
Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
Dept of Molecular & Cell Biology

MD, Harvard Medical School
PhD, Harvard Medical School

Our lab studies the glycobiology of protozoan parasites that cause diarrhea (Cryptosporidium and Giardia), dysentery (Entamoeba), birth defects (Toxoplasma), and blindness (Acanthamoeba). In particular, we use mass spectrometric, biochemical, and genetic methods to characterize sugars added to glycoproteins, as well as the enzymes that make or remove these sugars (glycosyltransferases and glycosyl hydrolases, respectively). For example, we showed that asparagine-linked glycans (N-glycans) of Cryptosporidium have a single mannose arm that is hardly modified and so is distinct from complex, highly modified N-glycans of the host. In contrast, Cryptosporidium vaccine candidates have mucin-like domains densely modified with O-GalNAc that resemble host intestinal mucins. We discovered a large set of nuclear proteins of Toxoplasma that are decorated with O-linked fucose and showed that O-fucosyltransferase is a homolog of plant Spindly. The host is lacking Spindly but has an O-GlcNAc transferase with a similar structure to Spindly that modifies an even larger set of nucleocytosolic proteins. We also identified a second Toxoplasma O-fucosyltransferase that modifies a secreted protein MIC2, which is essential for parasite adherence to and invasion into host cells.

The Samuelson lab also studies sugar polymers and glycoproteins present in cyst and oocyst walls of these parasites, which are critical for their transmission from person to person. The simple model we have developed is that these walls contain sugar polymers similar to those in fungal and plant walls: chitin (Entamoeba), glucan (Toxoplasma), and cellulose, chitin, and xylan (Acanthamoeba). In contrast to fungi and plants, glycoproteins in the parasite walls are few and are for the most part lectins (proteins that bind sugars), which bind the sugar polymers. These wall lectins are unique to each parasite and may be targets for diagnostic reagents. Finally, we have explored the potential use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers to prevent transmission of Giardia, Entamoeba, and Acanthamoeba.

Boston University School of Medicine

Boston University
National Emerging Infectious Disease Lab

Boston University
Genome Science Institute

Boston University
Bioinformatics Graduate Program

Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students)
Boston University School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences

2006-2011 Member of the Pathogenic Eukaryotes study section (2006-2011)
1998-2000 U.S.-India Fund Award (1998-2000)
1994-1996 1994-96 Harvard Digestive Diseases Center Pilot Project (1994-1996)
1993-1995 U.S. Mexico Foundation for Science Award (1993-1995)
1989-1992 American Gastroenterology Association Industry Scholar (1989-1992)
1986-1989 Life Science Research Foundation Fellow (1986-1989)
1984 Harvard Medical School: Shipley Award for best published research
1979-1984 National Institute of Health: Medical Scientist Training Program Fellow (1979-1984)

The Biochemistry and Cell Biology of the Spindly O-fucosyltransferase of Toxoplasma
01/01/2020 - 11/30/2023 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Structure and development of oocyst and sporocyst walls
08/01/2015 - 01/31/2020 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases

Genetic modification of cultured Cryptosporidium to test the autoinfection model
02/01/2017 - 01/31/2019 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases

Glycobiology of Giardia
05/01/2011 - 04/30/2017 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases

Roles for Beta 1,3-glucan in oocyst walls of Toxoplasma and Eimeria
04/01/2013 - 03/31/2014 (PI)
Mizutani Foundation for Glycosciences

Multiple Lectin Model of the Cyst Wall of Entamoeba
03/01/2000 - 02/28/2013 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases


Yr Title Project-Sub Proj Pubs
2020 The Biochemistry and Cell Biology of the Spindly O-fucosyltransferase of Toxoplasma 1R01GM129324-01A1
2019 Structure and Development of Oocyst and Sporocyst Walls 5R01AI110638-05 9
2018 Genetic modification of cultured Cryptosporidium to test the autoinfection model 5R21AI130889-02 1
2018 Structure and Development of Oocyst and Sporocyst Walls 5R01AI110638-04 9
2017 Genetic modification of cultured Cryptosporidium to test the autoinfection model 1R21AI130889-01 1
2017 Structure and Development of Oocyst and Sporocyst Walls 5R01AI110638-03 9
2016 Structure and Development of Oocyst and Sporocyst Walls 5R01AI110638-02 9
2015 Structure and Development of Oocyst and Sporocyst Walls 1R01AI110638-01A1 9
2015 Glycobiology of Giardia 5R01AI048082-10 30
2014 Glycobiology of Giardia 5R01AI048082-09 30
Showing 10 of 47 results. Show All Results

Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

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  1. Magistrado-Coxen P, Aqeel Y, Lopez A, Haserick JR, Urbanowicz BR, Costello CE, Samuelson J. The most abundant cyst wall proteins of Acanthamoeba castellanii are lectins that bind cellulose and localize to distinct structures in developing and mature cyst walls. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2019 05; 13(5):e0007352.View Related Profiles. PMID: 31095564
  2. Bandini G, Albuquerque-Wendt A, Hegermann J, Samuelson J, Routier FH. Protein O- and C-Glycosylation pathways in Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium falciparum. Parasitology. 2019 12; 146(14):1755-1766.View Related Profiles. PMID: 30773146
  3. Bandini G, Leon DR, Hoppe CM, Zhang Y, Agop-Nersesian C, Shears MJ, Mahal LK, Routier FH, Costello CE, Samuelson J. O-Fucosylation of thrombospondin-like repeats is required for processing of microneme protein 2 and for efficient host cell invasion by Toxoplasma gondii tachyzoites. J Biol Chem. 2019 02 08; 294(6):1967-1983.View Related Profiles. PMID: 30538131
  4. Gas-Pascual E, Ichikawa HT, Sheikh MO, Serji MI, Deng B, Mandalasi M, Bandini G, Samuelson J, Wells L, West CM. CRISPR/Cas9 and glycomics tools for Toxoplasma glycobiology. J Biol Chem. 2019 01 25; 294(4):1104-1125.View Related Profiles. PMID: 30463938
  5. Dubey R, Harrison B, Dangoudoubiyam S, Bandini G, Cheng K, Kosber A, Agop-Nersesian C, Howe DK, Samuelson J, Ferguson DJP, Gubbels MJ. Differential Roles for Inner Membrane Complex Proteins across Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis neurona Development. mSphere. 2017 Sep-Oct; 2(5).View Related Profiles. PMID: 29062899
  6. Haserick JR, Klein JA, Costello CE, Samuelson J. Cryptosporidium parvum vaccine candidates are incompletely modified with O-linked-N-acetylgalactosamine or contain N-terminal N-myristate and S-palmitate. PLoS One. 2017; 12(8):e0182395.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28792526
  7. Aqeel Y, Rodriguez R, Chatterjee A, Ingalls RR, Samuelson J. Killing of diverse eye pathogens (Acanthamoeba spp., Fusarium solani, and Chlamydia trachomatis) with alcohols. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2017 Feb; 11(2):e0005382.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28182670; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005382;
  8. Haserick JR, Leon DR, Samuelson J, Costello CE. Asparagine-Linked Glycans of Cryptosporidium parvum Contain a Single Long Arm, Are Barely Processed in the Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) or Golgi, and Show a Strong Bias for Sites with Threonine. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2017 Apr; 16(4 suppl 1):S42-S53.View Related Profiles. PMID: 28179475; DOI: 10.1074/mcp.M116.066035;
  9. Sanz S, López-Gutiérrez B, Bandini G, Damerow S, Absalon S, Dinglasan RR, Samuelson J, Izquierdo L. The disruption of GDP-fucose de novo biosynthesis suggests the presence of a novel fucose-containing glycoconjugate in Plasmodium asexual blood stages. Sci Rep. 2016 11 16; 6:37230.View Related Profiles. PMID: 27849032; DOI: 10.1038/srep37230;
  10. Bandini G, Haserick JR, Motari E, Ouologuem DT, Lourido S, Roos DS, Costello CE, Robbins PW, Samuelson J. O-fucosylated glycoproteins form assemblies in close proximity to the nuclear pore complexes of Toxoplasma gondii. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 10 11; 113(41):11567-11572.View Related Profiles. PMID: 27663739
Showing 10 of 119 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 118 publications over 36 distinct years, with a maximum of 8 publications in 1997


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75 E. Newton St Evans Building
Boston MA 02118
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