Genetic information flows from DNA to macromolecular structures-the dominant force in the molecular organization of life. However, recent work suggests that metabolite availability to the hexosamine and Golgi N-glycosylation pathways exerts control over the assembly of macromolecular complexes on the cell surface and, in this capacity, acts upstream of signaling and gene expression. The structure and number of N-glycans per protein molecule cooperate to regulate lectin binding and thereby the distribution of glycoproteins at the cell surface. Congenital disorders of glycosylation provide insight as extreme hypomorphisms, whereas milder deficiencies may encompass many common chronic conditions, including autoimmunity, metabolic syndrome, and aging.
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