Xu Wang

ISTB1 481F
Associate Professor
TEMPE Campus


Xu Wang is an assistant professor in the School of Molecular Sciences. His research interests are in studies of biophysical and biochemical mechanisms of cellular processes, especially those involving complex carbohydrates.

Professor Wang received his B.S. and Ph. D. from University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. His graduate study focused on elucidating proteins’ interactions with small ligands using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). After graduating, he continued his training at the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center in Athens, Georgia under Dr. James H. Prestegard. During this time, he became interested in biological phenomena involving glycans. In 2011, Dr. Wang joined the School of Molecular Sciences as an assistant professor and continued his work in studying the role of glycans in biology. The current focus of research is in understanding how proteins’ interact with and recognize the polysaccharide glycosaminoglycan, and how these interactions lead to changes in the cellular machinery that underlie important processes such as inflammation, blood coagulation and stem cell maintenance.


  • Ph.D. Biochemistry, University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 2005
  • B.S. University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 1999

Research Interests

Generally speaking, my research focuses on understanding important biological phenomena that involve interactions between complex carbohydrates ("sugars") and proteins. Complex carbohydrates form the outer coating of most cells and their interactions with proteins have been increasingly recognized as important modulators in critical events such as cancer cell metastasis, leukocyte activation and stem cell differentiations, just to name a few. My goal is to understand how carbohydrates control these phenomena and how to manipulate these carbohydrate-protein interactions for the benefit of human health.

A particular species of carbohydrates I am interested in is a class of sulfated polysaccharides known as glycosaminoglyans (GAGs). These highly charged molecules bind a host of important targets including growth factors, signaling cytokines and numerous enzymes and lectins. They have been implicated in diseases such as cancer, diabetes, thrombosis, Alzheimer's disease and many types of microbial infections. Despite their importance, very little is known about underlying principles controlling their specificity for proteins. My goal is to study the detailed structural interactions between GAGs and their target proteins using various biophysical techniques, with the final aim being the design of GAG mimics that can inhibit specifically GAG-protein interactions. In particular, I want to focus on determining whether carbohydrate type, sulfation configuration as well as dynamics of the protein side chains have any bearing on the specificity of GAG-protein interactions.

My laboratory uses may analytical and biophysical techniques, but the main technique is solution NMR spectroscopy. NMR is a powerful, versatile tool that can be used to probe many systems. I am interested in developing novel NMR techniques to study GAG-protein interactions, especially techniques capable of detecting intermolecular electrostatic interactions. I am also interested in improving present methodologies for purifying structurally homogeneous GAG oligomers through chemical and enzymatic derivatizations as well as producing GAG oligomers labeled with fluorescent, paramagnetic and isotopic tags for use in traditional as well as high-through put investigations.


  • X. Guan, P. K. Chaffey, H. Chen, W. Feng, X. Wei, L. Yang, Y. Ruan, X. Wang, Y. Li, K. B. Barosh, A. H. Tran, J. Zhu, W. Liang, Y. Zheng, X. Wang and Z. Tan. O-GalNAcylation of RANTES Improves Its Properties as an HIV-1 Entry Inhibitor. Biochemistry. (2018)
  • V. H. Pomin, and X. Wang. Synthetic oligosaccharide libraries and microarray technology: a powerful combination for the success of the current glycosaminoglycan interactomics. ChemMedChem. (2018) In Press            
  • X. Wang. Chapter 11. NMR Studies of Protein-Glycosaminoglycan Interactions. NMR in Glycoscience and Glycotechnology. (2017)
  • D. Shen, N. P. Podolnikova, V. P. Yakubenko, T. P. Ugarova, and X. Wang. Pleiotrophin is a Ligand of Integrin Mac-1. Journal of Biological Chemistry. (2017)
  • E. O. Ryan, D. Shen, X. Wang. C-terminal tail of PTN is required for stable interaction with Chondroitin Sulfate A. FEBS Journal. (2016)
  • J. O. Im, S. Biswas, H. Liu, Y. Zhao, S. Sen, S. Biswas, B. Ashcroft, C. Borges, X. Wang, S. Lindsay, S. and P. Zhang. Electronic Single Molecule Identification of Carbohydrate Isomers by Recognition Tunneling. Nature Communications. (2016)
  • A. M. Morgan, X. Wang. Structural mechanisms underlying sequence-dependent variations in GAG affinities of decorin binding protein A, a Borrelia burgdorferi adhesin. Biochem. J. (2015)
  • C. Deshauer, A. M. Morgan, E. O. Ryan, T. M. Handel, J. H. Prestegard, X. Wang. Interactions of the Chemokine CCL5/RANTES with Medium-Sized Chondroitin Sulfate Ligands. Structure. (2015)
  • W. Feng, X. Wang. Structure of decorin binding protein B from Borrelia burgdorferi and its interactions with glycosaminoglycans. Biochem. Biophys Acta. (In Press) (2015)
  • A. M. Morgan, K. M. Sepuru, W. Feng, K. Rajarathnam, X. Wang. Flexible Linker Modulates Glycosaminoglycan Affinity of Decorin Binding Protein A. Biochemistry. (In Press) (2015)
  • N. P. Podolnikova, S. Yakovlev, V. P. Yakubenko, X. Wang, O. V. Gorkun, T. P. Ugarova. The interaction of integrin αIIbβ3 with fibrin occurs through multiple binding sites in the αIIb β-propeller domain. J. Biol. Chem. (2014)
  •  A. Bolia, B. W. Woodrum, A. Cereda, M. A. Ruben, X. Wang, S. B. Ozkan, G. Ghirlanda. A flexible docking scheme efficiently captures the energetics of glycan-cyanovirin binding. Biophys J. (2014)
  • Morgan, A., Wang, X. Novel heparin-binding motif in decorin binding protein A from strain B31 of Borrelia burgdorferi explains higher binding affinity. Biochemistry (2013).
  • Wang, X., Sharp, J. S., Handel, T. M., Prestegard, J. H. Chemokine oligomerization in cell signaling and migration. Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science (2013).
  • Xu Wang. Solution Structure of Decorin-Binding Protein A from Borrelia burdorfei. Biochemistry (2012).
  • Wang, X., Watson, C. M., Sharp, J. S., Handel, T. M., Prestegard, J. H. Oligomeric Structure of the Chemokine CCL5/RANTES from NMR, MS and SAXS Data. Structure (2011).
  • Wang, X., Lee, H. W., Liu, Y. and Prestegard, J. H. Structural NMR of Protein Oligomers using Hybrid Methods. (2011).

Research Activity

  • Wang,Xu*, Lindsay,Stuart, Lindsay,Stuart, Zhang,Peiming. Single Molecule Sequencing of Glycosaminoglycans using Recognition Tunneling Nanopores. HHS-NIH-NIGMS(7/15/2015 - 6/30/2017).
  • Wang,Xu*. Structural Interactions of Bacterial Adhesin with Glycosaminoglycans. HHS-NIH-NIGMS(1/1/2011 - 12/31/2013).


Fall 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 361Principles of Biochemistry
MBB 492Honors Directed Study
BIO 492Honors Directed Study
Spring 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 361Principles of Biochemistry
BIO 493Honors Thesis
MBB 493Honors Thesis
BCH 494Special Topics
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
MBB 492Honors Directed Study
BIO 492Honors Directed Study
BCH 494Special Topics
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 361Principles of Biochemistry
MBB 493Honors Thesis
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
MBB 492Honors Directed Study
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
MBB 493Honors Thesis
BCH 494Special Topics
Fall 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 361Principles of Biochemistry
MBB 492Honors Directed Study
Spring 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
MBB 493Honors Thesis
BCH 494Special Topics
Fall 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 361Principles of Biochemistry
MBB 492Honors Directed Study
Spring 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 361Principles of Biochemistry
BCH 494Special Topics
BIO 495Undergraduate Research
BIO 499Individualized Instruction


  • Courtney Deshauer, Eathen Ryan, Xu Wang. Probing glycosaminoglycan-protein interaction with paramagnetic glycosaminoglycan ligands. Eastern Analytical Symposium 2014 (Nov 2014).
  • Ashli Morgan, Eathen Ryan, Courtney Deshauer and Xu Wang. Investigating protein-glycosaminoglycan interactions with paramagnetism. International Conference on Magnetic Resonance in Biological Systems 2014 (Aug 2014).
  • Courtney Deshauer, Fei Yu, Ashli Morgan, James H. Prestegard & Xu Wang. Structural characterizations of interactions of RANTES/CCL5 with GAG hexasaccharides. Chemotactic Cytokines Gordon Research Conference (Jul 2014).
  • Deshauer, C., Morgan, A., Heiss, C., Prestegard, J., Wang, X. Studying protein-glycosaminoglycan interactions using paramagnetically labeled polysaccharide ligands. The 57th annual meeting of the biophysical society (Feb 2013).
  • Xu Wang, Caroline Watson, Joshua Sharp & James H. Prestegard. Self-oligomerization of the chemokine CCL5 and its interactions with chondroitin sulfate oligomers. Keystone Symposia on Immunity & Glycobiology (Mar 2011).


  • PLoS One, Manuscript Reviewer (2014 - Present)
  • National Science Foundation, Graduate Research Fellowship Program, Application Reviewer (2014 - Present)
  • Journal of Biological Chemistry, Manuscript Reviewer (2014 - Present)
  • Glycobiology, Manuscript Reviewer (2014 - Present)
  • Department Instrumentation & Facilities Committee, member (2014 - Present)
  • Graduate Student Liaison, member (2014 - Present)
  • Biochemistry, Reviewer (2013 - Present)
  • Journal of Biotechnology, Reviewer (2013 - Present)
  • Journal of Visualized Experiments, Reviewer (2013 - Present)
  • Graduate Student Liaison, member (2013 - Present)
  • DCB Chemical Biology Faculty Search Committee, Committee member (2012 - Present)
  • Journal of Biological Chemistry, manuscript reviewer (2012 - Present)
  • Biochemistry, manuscript reviewer (2012 - Present)
  • Graduate Student Liaison, member (2012 - Present)
  • Graduate Student's Liaison, member (2011 - 2012)