On the frequency of protein glycosylation, as deduced from analysis of the SWISS-PROT database

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Dec 6;1473(1):4-8. doi: 10.1016/s0304-4165(99)00165-8.


The SWISS-PROT protein sequence data bank contains at present nearly 75,000 entries, almost two thirds of which include the potential N-glycosylation consensus sequence, or sequon, NXS/T (where X can be any amino acid but proline) and thus may be glycoproteins. The number of proteins filed as glycoproteins is however considerably smaller, 7942, of which 749 have been characterized with respect to the total number of their carbohydrate units and sites of attachment of the latter to the protein, as well as the nature of the carbohydrate-peptide linking group. Of these well characterized glycoproteins, about 90% carry either N-linked carbohydrate units alone or both N- and O-linked ones, attached at 1297 N-glycosylation sites (1.9 per glycoprotein molecule) and the rest are O-glycosylated only. Since the total number of sequons in the well characterized glycoproteins is 1968, their rate of occupancy is 2/3. Assuming that the same number of N-linked units and rate of sequon occupancy occur in all sequon containing proteins and that the proportion of solely O-glycosylated proteins (ca. 10%) will also be the same as among the well characterized ones, we conclude that the majority of sequon containing proteins will be found to be glycosylated and that more than half of all proteins are glycoproteins.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets / enzymology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / blood
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary / isolation & purification
  • Fucosyltransferases / blood
  • Fucosyltransferases / genetics*
  • Fucosyltransferases / isolation & purification
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Swine
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / metabolism


  • DNA, Complementary
  • alpha-Fetoproteins
  • Fucosyltransferases
  • Glycoprotein 6-alpha-L-fucosyltransferase