Glycobiology of cell death: when glycans and lectins govern cell fate

Cell Death Differ. 2013 Aug;20(8):976-86. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2013.50. Epub 2013 May 24.


Although one typically thinks of carbohydrates as associated with cell growth and viability, glycosylation also has an integral role in many processes leading to cell death. Glycans, either alone or complexed with glycan-binding proteins, can deliver intracellular signals or control extracellular processes that promote initiation, execution and resolution of cell death programs. Herein, we review the role of glycans and glycan-binding proteins as essential components of the cell death machinery during physiologic and pathologic settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Lectins / physiology*
  • Polysaccharides / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Lectins
  • Polysaccharides