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Biomolecules. 2012 Jan 30;2(1):34-45. doi: 10.3390/biom2010034.

Fucosylation is a promising target for cancer diagnosis and therapy.

Author information

1
Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Department of Molecular Biochemistry and Clinical Investigation, 1-7 Yamada-oka, Suita 565-0871, Japan. emiyoshi@sahs.med.osaka-u.ac.jp.
2
Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Department of Molecular Biochemistry and Clinical Investigation, 1-7 Yamada-oka, Suita 565-0871, Japan.

Abstract

Oligosaccharides, sequences of carbohydrates conjugated to proteins and lipids, are arguably the most abundant and structurally diverse class of molecules. Fucosylation is one of the most important oligosaccharide modifications involved in cancer and inflammation. Recent advances in glycomics have identified several types of glyco-biomarkers containing fucosylation that are linked to certain types of cancer. Fucosylated alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is widely used in the diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma because it is more specific than alpha-fetoprotein. High levels of fucosylated haptoglobin have also been found in sera of patients with various carcinomas. We have recently established a simple lectin-antibody ELISA to measure fucosylated haptoglobin and to investigate its clinical use. Cellular fucosylation is dependent upon fucosyltransferase activity and the level of its donor substrate, guanosine diphosphate (GDP)-fucose. GDP-mannose-4,6-dehydratase (GMDS) is a key enzyme involved in the synthesis of GDP-fucose. Mutations of GMDS found in colon cancer cells induced a malignant phenotype, leading to rapid growth in athymic mice resistant to natural killer cells. This review describes the role of fucosylated haptoglobin as a cancer biomarker, and discusses the possible biological role of fucosylation in cancer development.

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