About this Research Topic
Glycans, together with nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids, are the primary constituents of cells. In eukaryotes, glycans are present in the nucleus and cytoplasm of cells, where they function as regulatory switches, and are also found on the cell surface and outermost surface of secreted macromolecules, where they modulate cellular functions and mediate recognition events. Glycans at the cell surface are particularly involved in intermolecular and cell-cell recognition events and can thus participate in many facets of the immune system response. Glycan structures are complex, intrinsically heterogeneous, and cell-specific. The structural composition of glycans alters as cells undergo developmental, physiological and pathological changes, and can act as key determinant for immune recognition and immune cell activation. As highly versatile and central components of immunosurveillance, glycans guide a multitude of immunologic processes in dynamic ways. Determining the detailed role of glycans in immune regulation can set the ground for improved biomarkers and novel therapeutic strategies.
One of the hallmarks of cancer is the ability of malignant cells to evade the immune system. However, the mechanisms leading to cancer immunosurveillance and immunoediting are still poorly understood, precluding the development of novel and effective cancer immunotherapeutic strategies. Alterations of the glycosylation signature of tumour cells have been associated with the regulation of several mechanisms underlying cancer development and progression. Thus, a deeper understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which glycans-containing information can shape cancer immune responses, eliciting immunosuppression or promoting inflammation, is urgently needed. This knowledge will certainly contribute to the design of novel glycans-based immunotherapeutic strategies in oncology.
We welcome submissions of Original Research, Review, Mini-reviews, Opinions, Methods, and Perspective articles that cover, but are not limited to, the following topics:
- Glycan patterns in homeostasis and in cancer development, and impact on immune regulation;
- Mechanism underlying the interaction between tumour-specific glycans and immune cells;
- Immunosuppressive or immune-stimulatory responses triggered by tumour specific glycans;
- Characterization of the glycosylation signature of immune cells in cancer development as new biomarkers and for the development of new (immuno)therapeutic approaches.
Keywords: glycans, immune response, cancer development
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