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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Dec 6;1473(1):67-95.

Pathways of O-glycan biosynthesis in cancer cells.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Toronto, Oncology Research, Toronto Hospital, 67 College Street, Toronto, Ont., Canada.


Glycoproteins with O-glycosidically linked carbohydrate chains of complex structures and functions are found in secretions and on the cell surfaces of cancer cells. The structures of O-glycans are often unusual or abnormal in cancer, and greatly contribute to the phenotype and biology of cancer cells. Some of the mechanisms of changes in O-glycosylation pathways have been determined in cancer model systems. However, O-glycan biosynthesis is a complex process that is still poorly understood. The glycosyltransferases and sulfotransferases that synthesize O-glycans appear to exist as families of related enzymes of which individual members are expressed in a tissue- and growth-specific fashion. Studies of their regulation in cancer may reveal the connection between cancerous transformation and glycosylation which may help to understand and control the abnormal biology of tumor cells. Cancer diagnosis may be based on the appearance of certain glycosylated epitopes, and therapeutic avenues have been designed to attack cancer cells via their glycans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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