The role of glycans in the development and progression of prostate cancer

Jennifer Munkley, Ian G Mills, David J Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Prostate cancer is a unique and heterogeneous disease. Currently, a major unmet clinical need exists to develop biomarkers that enable indolent disease to be distinguished from aggressive disease. The prostate is an abundant secretor of glycoproteins of all types, and alterations in glycans are, therefore, attractive as potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Despite progress over the past decade in profiling the genome and proteome, the prostate cancer glycoproteome remains relatively understudied. A wide range of alterations in the glycoproteins on prostate cancer cells can occur, including increased sialylation and fucosylation, increased O-β-N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) conjugation, the emergence of cryptic and high-mannose N-glycans and alterations to proteoglycans. Glycosylation can alter protein function and has a key role in many important biological processes in cancer including cell adhesion, migration, interactions with the cell matrix, immune surveillance, cell signalling and cellular metabolism; altered glycosylation in prostate cancer might modify some, or all of these processes. In the past three years, powerful tools such as glycosylation-specific antibodies and glycosylation gene signatures have been developed, which enable detailed analyses of changes in glycosylation. Thus, emerging data on these often overlooked modifications have the potential to improve risk stratification and therapeutic strategies in patients with prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324–333
JournalNature reviews. Urology
Early online date19 Apr 2016
Publication statusEarly online date - 19 Apr 2016


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