Neoplastic transformation results in a wide variety of cellular alterations that impact the growth, survival, and general behavior of affected tissue. Although genetic alterations underpin the development of neoplastic disease, epigenetic changes can exert an equally significant effect on neoplastic transformation. Among neoplasia-associated epigenetic alterations, changes in cellular glycosylation have recently received attention as a key component of neoplastic progression. Alterations in glycosylation appear to not only directly impact cell growth and survival but also facilitate tumor-induced immunomodulation and eventual metastasis. Many of these changes may support neoplastic progression, and unique alterations in tumor-associated glycosylation may also serve as a distinct feature of cancer cells and therefore provide novel diagnostic and even therapeutic targets.
Keywords: biomarkers; cancer; glycans; glycoprotein; glycosylation; immunohistochemistry; oligosaccharides; transformation.