Medical Definition of Glycobiology

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Glycobiology: The study of molecules that contain carbohydrates, their structure and function, and the roles they play in biology.

The extracellular matrix was long believed to merely be a static support with only limited influence on important decisions by the cell in growth and differentiation. In the 1970s, it was found that the extracellular matrix is dynamic, turning over at points of growth and morphogenesis. Merton Bernfield and colleagues discovered the first syndecans which connect across the plasma membrane to the actin cytoskeleton. The extracellular domains mediate many functions, including cell adhesion and the presentation of growth factors to signaling receptors. Syndecan plays an important role in obesity, cancer and bacterial pathogenesis.

There is a journal called Glycobiology which "provides a unique forum dedicated to research into the structure and function of glycoconjugates (including glycoproteins, glycolipids, proteoglycans or free complex saccharides) or on any aspect of proteins that specifically interact with glycoconjugate (e.g. lectins, glycotransferases, glycosidases)."

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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