Vertebrate protein glycosylation: diversity, synthesis and function

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2012 Jun 22;13(7):448-62. doi: 10.1038/nrm3383.


Protein glycosylation is a ubiquitous post-translational modification found in all domains of life. Despite their significant complexity in animal systems, glycan structures have crucial biological and physiological roles, from contributions in protein folding and quality control to involvement in a large number of biological recognition events. As a result, they impart an additional level of 'information content' to underlying polypeptide structures. Improvements in analytical methodologies for dissecting glycan structural diversity, along with recent developments in biochemical and genetic approaches for studying glycan biosynthesis and catabolism, have provided a greater understanding of the biological contributions of these complex structures in vertebrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Glycoproteins / chemistry
  • Glycosylation*
  • Golgi Apparatus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Denaturation
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Proteins / chemistry


  • Glycoproteins
  • Polysaccharides
  • Proteins