Send to

Choose Destination
Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 1997;32(1):1-100.

Glycosylation: heterogeneity and the 3D structure of proteins.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, U.K.


Glycoproteins generally exist as populations of glycosylated variants (glycoforms) of a single polypeptide. Although the same glycosylation machinery is available to all proteins that enter the secretory pathway in a given cell, most glycoproteins emerge with characteristic glycosylation patterns and heterogeneous populations of glycans at each glycosylation site. The factors that control the composition of the glycoform populations and the role that heterogeneity plays in the function of glycoproteins are important questions for glycobiology. A full understanding of the implications of glycosylation for the structure and function of a protein can only be reached when a glycoprotein is viewed as a single entity. Individual glycoproteins, by virtue of their unique structures, can selectively control their own glycosylation by modulating interactions with the glycosylating enzymes in the cell. Examples include protein-specific glycosylation within the immunoglobulins and immunoglobulin superfamily and site-specific processing in ribonuclease, Thy-1, IgG, tissue plasminogen activator, and influenza A hemagglutinin. General roles for the range of sugars on glycoproteins such as the leukocyte antigens include orientating the molecules on the cell surface. A major role for specific sugars is in recognition by lectins, including chaperones involved in protein folding. In addition, the recognition of identical motifs in different glycans allows a heterogeneous population of glycoforms to participate in specific biological interactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis
Loading ...
Support Center