Carbohydrates play a crucial role in host-microorganism interactions and many host glycoconjugates are receptors or co-receptors for microbial binding. Host glycosylation varies with species and location in the body, and this contributes to species specificity and tropism of commensal and pathogenic bacteria. Additionally, bacterial glycosylation is often the first bacterial molecular species encountered and responded to by the host system. Accordingly, characterising and identifying the exact structures involved in these critical interactions is an important priority in deciphering microbial pathogenesis. Carbohydrate-based microarray platforms have been an underused tool for screening bacterial interactions with specific carbohydrate structures, but they are growing in popularity in recent years. In this review, we discuss carbohydrate-based microarrays that have been profiled with whole bacteria, recombinantly expressed adhesins or serum antibodies. Three main types of carbohydrate-based microarray platform are considered; (i) conventional carbohydrate or glycan microarrays; (ii) whole mucin microarrays; and (iii) microarrays constructed from bacterial polysaccharides or their components. Determining the nature of the interactions between bacteria and host can help clarify the molecular mechanisms of carbohydrate-mediated interactions in microbial pathogenesis, infectious disease and host immune response and may lead to new strategies to boost therapeutic treatments.
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