Laura L. Kiessling

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Laura L. Kiessling
Born Lake Mills, Wisconsin
Nationality USA
Fields Chemical Biology
Alma mater

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Yale University
Known for Research on multivalent protein-carbohydrate interactions; carbohydrate polymers

Laura L. Kiessling is an American chemist, Steenbock Professor of Chemistry and Laurens Anderson Professor of Biochemistry, at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Her interdisciplinary research interests focus on elucidating and exploiting the mechanisms of cell surface recognition processes, especially those involving protein-glycan interactions. Another major interest of her group is multivalency and its role in recognition and signal transduction. Her research combines tools from organic synthesis, polymer chemistry, structural biology, and molecular and cell biology.[1][2]


After earning a B.S. in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1983) and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Yale University (1989), Kiessling spent two years at the California Institute of Technology as an American Cancer Society postdoctoral Fellow before joining the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1991.


In addition to her current positions in the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UW-Madison, she is the director of both the Keck Center for Chemical Genomics and the NIH Chemistry-Biology Interface Training Program as well as the Editor-in-Chief of ACS Chemical Biology.[3][4][5]

In the first ten years of her career, Kiessling garnered a NSF National Young Investigator Award, Zeneca Excellence in Chemistry Award, a Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, American Chemical Society (ACS) Arthur C. Cope Award, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and was selected as one of the fifty top research and development “stars to watch” by Industry Week.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] Kiessling is also the cofounder of Quintessence Biosciences, a company that is working to translate her technological advances into cures for various diseases.[13]

Laura Kiessling is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Member of the American Academy of Microbiology, National Academy of Sciences, and Wisconsin Academy of the Arts and Sciences. In addition since 2005 she has served as editor–in-chief of ACS Chemical Biology.[14][15][16][17] She is also a member of the Board of Scientific Governors of The Scripps Research Institute.[18] During her Guggenheim Fellowship term, Kiessling worked at Caltech, in the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Laboratories of Chemical Synthesis, studying chemoselective reactions for biology.[19]

Selected honors and awards[edit]

Selected works[edit]

  • Gestwicki, J. E.; Cairo, C. W.; Strong, L. E.; Oetjen, K. A.; Kiessling, L. L. (2002). "Influencing Receptor – Ligand Binding Mechanisms with Multivalent Ligand Architecture". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 124: 14922–14933. doi:10.1021/ja027184x. 

Showed that the multivalent ligands (compounds that possess multiple binding groups) can act by different mechanisms to create different types of macromolecular assemblies.

Demonstration that multivalent ligands can be used to cluster proteins and activate signaling. Found that the bacterial chemoreceptors work together like a nose to sense and respond to compounds in their environment.

Found that multifunctional multivalent ligands can be used to elicit a specific cell response. Polymers that co-cluster a receptor on B cells (the B cell receptor) with a carbohydrate-binding protein (CD22) dampen immune responses.

Polysaccharides are the most abundant organic molecules on Earth but how their length is controlled is not known. This publication puts forth a general mechanism for controlling the length of a polysaccharide.

  • Brown, C. D.; Rusek, M. S.; Kiessling, L. L. (2012). "Fluorosugar Chain Termination Agents as Probes of the Sequence Specificity of a Carbohydrate Polymerase". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 134: 6552–6555. doi:10.1021/ja301723p. 

Carbohydrate polymerases mediate the assembly of polysaccharides composed of different sequences and structures. Are the polymerases highly selective for generating specific sequences? This publication examines carbohydrate polymerase fidelity and shows that these enzymes can be faithful not promiscuous.

  • Borrok, M. J.; Kiessling, L. L. (2007). "Non-Carbohydrate Inhibitors of the Lectin DC-SIGN". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 129: 12780–12785. doi:10.1021/ja072944v. 

A rare example of a small molecule that is a potent monovalent blocker of a lectin (IC50 value ~ 1 μM).

A new and unexpected role for glycosaminoglycans interactions in maintaining the pluripotency of human embryonic stem cells. Draws on insights learned from investigating multivalent protein–carbohydrate interactions.

  • Dykhuizen, E. C.; May, J. F.; Tongpenyai, A.; Kiessling, L. L. "Inhibitors of UDP-Galactopyranose Mutase Thwart Mycobacterial Growth". 2008". J. Am. Chem. Soc 130: 6706–6707. doi:10.1021/ja8018687. 
  • Kolonko, E. M.; Kiessling, L. L. "A polymeric domain that promotes cellular internalization". 2008". J. Am. Chem. Soc 130: 5626–5627. doi:10.1021/ja8001716. 
  • Underbakke, E. S.; Zhu, Y.; Kiessling, L. L. "Isotope-Coded Affinity Tags with Tunable Reactivites for Protein Footprinting". 2008". Angew. Chem. Int. Ed 47: 9677–9680. doi:10.1002/anie.200803378. 
  • Carlson, C. B.; Mowery, P.; Owen, R. M.; Dykhuizen, E. C.; Kiessling, L. L. "Selective Tumor Cell Targeting Using Low Affinity Multivalent Interactions". 2007". ACS Chem. Biol. 2: 119–127. doi:10.1021/cb6003788. 
  • Puffer, E. B.; Pontrello, J. K.; Hollenbeck, J. J.; Kink, J. A.; Kiessling, L. L. "Activating B Cell Signaling with Defined Multivalent Ligands". 2007". ACS Chem. Biol. 2: 252–262. doi:10.1021/cb600489g. 
  • Kiessling, L. L.; Gestwicki, J. E.; Strong, L. E. (2006). "Synthetic Ligands as Probes of Signal Transduction." 2006". Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 45: 2348–2368. doi:10.1002/anie.200502794. 
  • Pontrello, J. K.; Allen, M. J.; Underbakke, E. S.; Kiessling, L. L. "Solid-Phase Synthesis of Polymers Using the Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerization". 2005". J. Am. Chem. Soc 127: 14536–14537. doi:10.1021/ja053931p. 
  • He, Y.; Hinklin, R. J.; Chang, J.; Kiessling, L. L. "Stereoselective N-Glycosylation by Staudinger Ligation." 2004". Org. Lett 6: 4479–4482. doi:10.1021/ol048271s. 
  • Soltero-Higgin, M. L.; Carlson, E. E.; Gruber, T. D.; Kiessling, L. L. "A Unique Catalytic Mechanism for UDP-Galactopyranose Mutase" 2004". Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 11: 539–543. doi:10.1038/nsmb772. 
  • Young, T.; Kiessling, L. L. "A Strategy for the Synthesis of Sulfated Peptides". 2002". Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Eng 41: 3449–3451. doi:10.1002/1521-3773(20020916)41:18<3449::aid-anie3449>;2-u. 
  • Gestwicki, J. E.; Cairo, C. W.; Strong, L. E.; Oetjen, K. A.; Kiessling, L. L. "Influencing Receptor - Ligand Binding Mechanisms with Multivalent Ligand Architecture". 2002". J. Am. Chem. Soc 124: 14922–14933. doi:10.1021/ja027184x. 
  • Bertozzi, C. R.; Kiessling, L. L. (March 2001). "Chemical Glycobiology". Science 291 (2357-64): 299. doi:10.1126/science.1059820. PMID 11269316. 
  • Hinklin, R. J.; Kiessling, L. L. "Glycosyl Sulfonylcarbamates: New Glycosyl Donors with Tunable Reactivity". 2001". J. Am. Chem. Soc 123: 3379–3380. doi:10.1021/ja005735i. 
  • Nilsson, B. L.; Kiessling, L. L.; Raines, R. T. (2000). "Staudinger Ligation: A Peptide from a Thioester and Azide". Org. Lett 2 (13): 1939–1941. doi:10.1021/ol0060174. PMID 10891196. 
  • Maki, N.; Gestwicki, J. E.; Kiessling, L. L.; Adler, J. (2000). "Motility and Chemotaxis of Filamentous Cells of Escherichia coli". J. Bacteriol 182: 4337–4342. doi:10.1128/jb.182.15.4337-4342.2000. 



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External links[edit]

  • "Laura L. Kiessling", Scientific Commons
  • [1], Quintessence Biosciences, Inc.
  • [2], The Kiessling Lab website
  • [3], Chemistry-Biology Interface Training Program