Heavy metal pollution of water is a significant environmental and public health concern. Current biological strategies for heavy metal removal from water are performed using microbial biopolymers, including polysaccharides, that are already fully formed. This creates limitations in adapting polysaccharides to increase binding affinity for specific metals. We propose that altering the specificity of polysaccharide-producing enzymes could be beneficial to improving metal capture by modified polysaccharides. We assess binding of Cu2+
metal cations to Neisseria meningitidis
-type polysaccharides. All concentrations of metal cations tested were able to completely bind to colominic acid. This polymer is equivalent to the capsular polysaccharide of N. meningitidis
serogroup B comprised of a homopolymer of negatively charged sialic acid. There was slightly less binding observed with N. meningitidis
serogroup W, which contains repeating units of the neutral sugar galactose and sialic acid. Our work represents the first assessment of the metal-binding properties of these capsular polysaccharides. Future work will seek to optimize metal-binding with Neisseria meningitidis
serogroup W polysaccharide.
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