Glycobiology is the study of the structure, biosynthesis and biology of saccharides that are widely distributed in nature. Sugars or saccharides are essential components of all living things and aspects of the various roles they play in biology and are researched in various medical, biochemical and biotechnological fields. The study of glycan structures is also complicated by the lack of a direct template for their biosynthesis, contrary to the case with proteins where their amino acid sequence is determined by their corresponding gene.
Glycobiology and Medicine
Drugs already on the market such as heparin, erythropoietin and a few anti-flu drugs have proven effective and highlight the importance of glycans as a new class of drug. Additionally, the search for new anti-cancer drugs is opening up new possibilities in glycobiology. Anti-cancer drugs with new and varied action mechanisms together with anti-inflammatory and anti-infection drugs are today undergoing clinical trials. They may alleviate or complete current therapies. Although these glycans are molecules that are difficult to synthesize in a reproducible way owing to their complex structure and this new field of research is highly encouraging for the future.
Glycobiology and Proteomics
Glycans are secondary gene products and therefore are generated by the coordinated action of many enzymes in the subcellular compartments of a cell. Multiple Reaction Monitoring (MRM) is a mass spectrometry-based technique that has recently been used for site-specific glycosylation profiling. Although MRM has been used extensively in metabolomics and proteomics, its high sensitivity and linear response over a wide dynamic range make it especially suited for glycan biomarker research and discovery.
Glycoconjugates and Glycomics
Glycomics analogous to genomics and proteomics is the systematic study of all the glycan structures of a given cell type or organism and is a subset of glycobiology. Sugars may be linked to other types of biological molecule to form glycoconjugates. The enzymatic process of glycosylation creates sugars or saccharides linked to themselves and to other molecules by the glycosidic bond, thereby producing glycans. Glycoproteins, proteoglycans and glycolipids are the most abundant glycoconjugates found in mammalian cells. Glycoconjugates have been shown to be important in cell-cell interactions due to the presence on the cell surface of various glycan binding receptors in addition to the glycoconjugates themselves.
Glycobiology and Glycochemistry
Glycans can be found attached to the proteins as in glycoproteins and proteoglycans. Carbohydrates have long been underappreciated by the scientific community and many scientists approach the complex structures and elaborate nomenclature of carbohydrates with trepidation. Like amino acids and nucleic acids, sugars are abundant in nature many natural products contain oligosaccharides that are vital for their biological activity and carbohydrates have key roles in a broad range of biological processes including signal transduction and immune responses.
Glycosciences and Monosaccharides
Glycoscience has become a vibrant, expanding and important extension of modern molecular biology and medicine. The wide complexity of glycosylated structures is only paralleled to their utility. Discovering carbohydrate antigens as tumour markers or even abnormal glycation pathways in metabolic diseases such as diabetes precluded the importance of the expansion of Glycoscience in a near future, as a way of disclosing new biomarkers and therapeutic targets in disease. The ultimate goal is to build research capacity on Glycosciences and seed ground to translate emerging discoveries in Glycosciences into new diagnostics and clinical applications.
Glycobiology and Protein Biochemistry
Proteins are a primary constituent of living things and one of the chief classes of molecules studied in biochemistry. Proteins provide most of the molecular machinery of cells. Many are enzymes or subunits of enzymes. Other proteins play structural or mechanical roles, such as those that form the struts and joints of the cytoskeleton. The study of proteins through protein biochemistry and enzymology encompasses many fields of biology, including molecular biology, cell biology, pharmaceutical research and development, food science, plant biology and more.
Recent Advances in Glycobiology
Glycobiology is one of the vast expanding fields. In the course of time many advances have taken place and huge number of solved structures has amplified rapidly. The field of drug design and molecular modelling has been advanced. Functional annotations are another field where progressions are being seen. Alterations in order to improve the effectiveness of prevailing tools can also be noted. Many remarkable advances can be seen in the areas of imaging technologies and advancement of hybrid methods to understand the structure and function of proteins.