Mammalian protein glycosylation – structure versus function
Carbohydrates fulfil many common as well as extremely important functions in nature. They show a variety of molecular displays – e.g., free mono-, oligo-, and polysaccharides, glycolipids, proteoglycans, glycoproteins, etc. – with particular roles and localizations in living organisms. Structure-specific peculiarities are so many and diverse that it becomes virtually impossible to cover them all from an analytical perspective. Hence this manuscript, focused on mammalian glycosylation, rather than a complete list of analytical descriptors or recognized functions for carbohydrate structures, comprehensively reviews three central issues in current glycoscience, namely (i) structural analysis of glycoprotein glycans, covering both classical and novel approaches for teasing out the structural puzzle as well as potential pitfalls of these processes; (ii) an overview of functions attributed to carbohydrates, covering from monosaccharide to complex, well-defined epitopes and full glycans, including post-glycosylational modifications, and (iii) recent technical advances allowing structural identification of glycoprotein glycans with simultaneous assignation of biological functions.