Barbara Imperiali

Barbara Imperiali

Class of 1922 Professor of Biology and Chemistry

Barbara Imperiali studies the biogenesis and myriad functions of glycoconjugates in human health and disease.





Building 68 - Koch Biology Building


Meg Rheault



Assistant Phone


  • PhD, 1983, MIT
  • BSc, 1979, Medicinal Chemistry, University College London

Research Summary

We study diverse aspects of protein structure and function and employ multidisciplinary approaches to address fundamental problems at the interface of chemistry and biology. We are fascinated by the amazing complexity and myriad functions of glycoconjugates in human health and disease. Still more enthralling are the intricate membrane-associated pathways that lead to the cellular biogenesis of these important macromolecules. Our group applies approaches and technologies from a wide range of synergistic fields including chemical biology (for inhibitor and probe development), biochemistry and biophysics (for analyses within and beyond native and model membranes), and cellular, molecular and microbiology to unravel these pathways. Ultimately we seek to decipher the molecular logic of glycoconjugate biosynthesis and to identify processes to target in the study of infectious disease.


  • National Academy of Sciences, Member, 2010
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) 2006
  • American Chemical Society - Breslow Award for Achievement in Biomimetic Chemistry 2006
  • Protein Society - Kaiser Award, 2006
  • Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow, 2003-2013
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow, 2001

Key Publications

  1. A Strategic Approach for Fluorescence Imaging of Membrane Proteins in a Native-like Environment. Swiecicki, JM, Santana, JT, Imperiali, B. 2020. Cell Chem Biol 27, 245-251.e3.
    doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2019.11.008PMID:31831268
  2. Membrane association of monotopic phosphoglycosyl transferase underpins function. Ray, LC, Das, D, Entova, S, Lukose, V, Lynch, AJ, Imperiali, B, Allen, KN. 2018. Nat Chem Biol 14, 538-541.
    doi: 10.1038/s41589-018-0054-zPMID:29769739
  3. Analysis of a dual domain phosphoglycosyl transferase reveals a ping-pong mechanism with a covalent enzyme intermediate. Das, D, Kuzmic, P, Imperiali, B. 2017. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114, 7019-7024.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1703397114PMID:28630348
  4. Lipid bilayer nanodisc platform for investigating polyprenol-dependent enzyme interactions and activities. Hartley, MD, Schneggenburger, PE, Imperiali, B. 2013. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110, 20863-70.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1320852110PMID:24302767

Recent Publications

  1. Defining early steps in Bacillus subtilis biofilm biosynthesis. Arbour, CA, Nagar, R, Bernstein, HM, Ghosh, S, Al-Sammarraie, Y, Dorfmueller, HC, Ferguson, MAJ, Stanley-Wall, NR, Imperiali, B. 2023. mBio , e0094823.
    doi: 10.1128/mbio.00948-23PMID:37650625
  2. Deploying solid-phase synthesis to access thymine-containing nucleoside analogs that inhibit DNA repair nuclease SNM1A. Arbour, CA, Fay, EM, McGouran, JF, Imperiali, B. 2023. Org Biomol Chem 21, 5873-5879.
    doi: 10.1039/d3ob00836cPMID:37417819
  3. Human oral lectin ZG16B acts as a cell wall polysaccharide probe to decode host-microbe interactions with oral commensals. Ghosh, S, Ahearn, CP, Isabella, CR, Marando, VM, Dodge, GJ, Bartlett, H, McPherson, RL, Dugan, AE, Jain, S, Neznanova, L et al.. 2023. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 120, e2216304120.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.2216304120PMID:37216558
  4. Co-conserved sequence motifs are predictive of substrate specificity in a family of monotopic phosphoglycosyl transferases. Anderson, AJ, Dodge, GJ, Allen, KN, Imperiali, B. 2023. Protein Sci 32, e4646.
    doi: 10.1002/pro.4646PMID:37096962
  5. A generalizable protocol for expression and purification of membrane-bound bacterial phosphoglycosyl transferases in liponanoparticles. Dodge, GJ, Bernstein, HM, Imperiali, B. 2023. Protein Expr Purif 207, 106273.
    doi: 10.1016/j.pep.2023.106273PMID:37068720
  6. Defining Early Steps in B. subtilis Biofilm Biosynthesis. Arbour, CA, Nagar, R, Bernstein, HM, Ghosh, S, Al-Sammarraie, Y, Dorfmueller, HC, Ferguson, MAJ, Stanley-Wall, NR, Imperiali, B. 2023. bioRxiv , .
    doi: 10.1101/2023.02.22.529487PMID:36865097
  7. Immunochemical characterisation of styrene maleic acid lipid particles prepared from Mycobacterium tuberculosis plasma membrane. Sinha, S, Kumar, S, Singh, K, Umam, F, Agrawal, V, Aggarwal, A, Imperiali, B. 2023. PLoS One 18, e0280074.
    doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0280074PMID:36608027
  8. Engineered Glycan-Binding Proteins for Recognition of the Thomsen-Friedenreich Antigen and Structurally Related Disaccharides. Ward, EM, Zamora, CY, Schocker, NS, Ghosh, S, Kizer, ME, Imperiali, B. 2023. ACS Chem Biol 18, 70-80.
    doi: 10.1021/acschembio.2c00683PMID:36525666
  9. Probing Monotopic Phosphoglycosyl Transferases from Complex Cellular Milieu. Anderson, AJ, Seebald, LM, Arbour, CA, Imperiali, B. 2022. ACS Chem Biol 17, 3191-3197.
    doi: 10.1021/acschembio.2c00648PMID:36346917
  10. Backbone-Anchoring, Solid-Phase Synthesis Strategy To Access a Library of Peptidouridine-Containing Small Molecules. Arbour, CA, Imperiali, B. 2022. Org Lett 24, 2170-2174.
    doi: 10.1021/acs.orglett.2c00462PMID:35271284
More Publications



Photo credit: Elizabeth Fong