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Glycosylation Changes in Cancer: An Innovative Frontier at the Interface of Cancer and Glycobiology

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The changes in glycosylation associated with oncogenic transformation were first described for glycosphingolipids by Hakomori’s group (Seattle, USA) almost four decades ago. Nowadays, it is well recognized that one of the hallmarks of cancer cells is the altered expression and/or activity of ...

The changes in glycosylation associated with oncogenic transformation were first described for glycosphingolipids by Hakomori’s group (Seattle, USA) almost four decades ago. Nowadays, it is well recognized that one of the hallmarks of cancer cells is the altered expression and/or activity of glycosyltransferases, yielding an “aberrant” glycophenotype when compared to their normal counterparts. These changes result in structural variations of glycans carried by glycoconjugates, altering their interaction with carbohydrate-binding molecules and modulating the role of the membrane glycan in signal transduction and cell adhesion required for cell motility. In addition, the aberrant glycosylation of glycoproteins and glycolipids in transformed cells offers an interesting diagnostic perspective in distinguishing what is benign and what is malignant. Some glycoconjugates carrying atypical glycophenotypes have been used as cancer biomarkers. For a long time, little was known about the role of glycans on the biology of transformed cells. However, the advent of new experimental models has helped to shed light how altered glycan structures can govern the molecular pathways associated with cancer development and/or progression. Over the last few years, many studies have generated valuable information that might be used for future diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. In this research topic, we aim to cover implications on glycobiological aspects of cancer cells by methods, hypotheses and theories, historical data, opinions, research articles, mini-reviews and reviews.


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