Dr Yuan Guo

Research interests

We are interested in understanding how carbohydrate binding proteins (also known as lectins) recognize their specific carbohydrate ligands and how such interactions regulate immune responses and pathogen infection. We will further exploit such understandings to develop potent therapy to treat allergy and bacterial infections.

1: Lectin-carbohydrate recognition in immune regulation

A dendritic cell (DC) surface lectin DC-SIGN recognizes mannose or fucose containing oligosaccharides on pathogen (e.g. HIV, HCV, Ebola and some bacteria) or some glycosylated molecule surfaces. DC-SIGN binding leads to ligands be efficiently internalized, and presented to stimulate T cell. Such binding can also regulate DC’s production of immune regulatory cytokines through cross-talk with DC surface signalling Toll-like-receptors. DC-SIGN is known to form tetramer on cell surfaces which can enhance its carbohydrate binding affinity and specificity. However, the underpinning structural and molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. By developing a novel multi-functional carbohydrate-nanoparticle approach, we aim to elucidate how its four carbohydrate-recognition-domains (CRDs) are spatially arranged to allow it selectively recognize multivalent glycans with specific spatial orientation, and how such interactions mediate DC endocytosis and cytokine secretion to regulate immune response such as tolerance.   

2: Lectin-carbohydrate interactions on anti-bacterial strategy development

Bacteria often use their surface lectins to interact with host cell surface carbohydrates to attach to target cells and establish infection. We are also interested in understanding the structural and molecular mechanisms underlying such adhesions and further to harness such knowledge to develop effective anti-adhesion reagents.

We are using a multidisciplinary approach to address such challenges. We combine molecular biology, protein biochemistry, cell biology, chemistry, nanotechnology, and advanced microscopy techniques in our research. We collaborate closely with several groups in Leeds (e.g. Zhou, Turnbull at Chemistry, Hondow/Brydson at Chemical Engineering) and also internationally (Pöhlmann, Germany, Wang, USA). We are also interested to reveal the molecular details of such lectin-carbohydrate interactions by X-ray crystallography and cryo-EM imaging through collaboration at the Astbury Centre.


  • PhD in Biophysics
  • MSc in Bioinorganic Chemistry
  • BSc in Chemistry

Professional memberships

  • Royal Society of Chemistry

Research groups and institutes

  • Food Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Food Safety, Security and Sustainability

Postgraduate research opportunities

We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our research opportunities allow you to search for projects and scholarships.

Projects currently available: