O-GlcNAc glycosylation (O-GlcNAcylation) corresponds to the addition of N-acetylglucosamine on serine and threonine residues of cytosolic and nuclear proteins. O-GlcNAcylation is a dynamic post-translational modification, analogous to phosphorylation, that regulates the stability, the activity or the subcellular localisation of target proteins. This reversible modification depends on the availability of glucose and therefore constitutes a powerful mechanism by which cellular activities are regulated according to the nutritional environment of the cell. O-GlcNAcylation has been implicated in important human pathologies including Alzheimer disease and type-2 diabetes. Only two enzymes, OGT and O-GlcNAcase, control the O-GlcNAc level on proteins. Therefore, O-GlcNAcylations cannot organize in signaling cascades as observed for phosphorylations. O-GlcNAcylations should rather be considered as a "rheostat" that controls the intensity of the signals traveling through different pathways according to the nutritional status of the cell. Thus, OGT attenuates insulin signal by O-GlcNAcylation of proteins involved in proximal and distal steps in the PI-3 kinase signaling pathway. This negative feedback may be exacerbated when cells are chronically exposed to elevated glucose concentrations and could thereby contribute to alterations in insulin signaling observed in diabetic patients. O-GlcNAcylation also appears to contribute to the deleterious effects of hyperglycaemia on excessive glucose production by the liver and deterioration of β-cell pancreatic function, resulting in worsening of hyperglycaemia (glucotoxicity). Moreover, O-GlcNAcylations directly participate in several diabetic complications. O-GlcNAcylation of eNOS in endothelial cells have been involved in micro- and macrovascular complications. In addition, O-GlcNAcylations activate the expression of profibrotic and antifibrinolytic factors, contributing to vascular and renal dysfunctions.
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