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J Biochem. 2008 Jun;143(6):725-9. doi: 10.1093/jb/mvn011. Epub 2008 Jan 24.

Biological function of fucosylation in cancer biology.

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Department of Molecular Biochemistry & Clinical Investigation, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-7, Yamada-oka, Suita, 565-0871, Japan.


Fucosylation is one of the most common modifications involving oligosaccharides on glycoproteins or glycolipids. Fucosylation comprises the attachment of a fucose residue to N-glycans, O-glycans and glycolipids. O-Fucosylation, which is a special type of fucosylation, is very important for Notch signalling. The regulatory mechanisms for fucosylation are complicated. Many kinds of fucosyltransferases, the GDP-fucose synthesis pathway and GDP-fucose transporter are involved in the regulation of fucosylation. Increased levels of fucosylation have been reported in a number of pathological conditions, including inflammation and cancer. Therefore, certain types of fucosylated glycoproteins such as AFP-L3 or several kinds of antibodies, which recognize fucosylated oligosaccharides such as sialyl Lewis a/x, have been used as tumour markers. Furthermore, fucosylation of glycoproteins regulates the biological functions of adhesion molecules and growth factor receptors. Changes in fucosylation could provide a novel strategy for cancer therapy. In this review, the biological significance of and regulatory pathway for fucosylation have been described.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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