The glycobiology of brain tumors: Disease relevance and therapeutic potential

Joseph R. Moskal, Roger A. Kroes, Glyn Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The oligosaccharides that decorate cell surface glycoconjugates play important roles in intercellular recognition and cell-extracellular matrix interactions, and thus the regulation of cellular migration, metastasis and invasivity. Virtually all tumor cells display aberrant cell-surface glycosylation patterns brought about by alterations in their biosynthetic machinery. This holds true for highly invasive, malignant brain tumors as well as tumor cells that metastasize to the brain. The field of glycobiology is well established with essentially all of the biochemical pathways for oligosaccharide metabolism characterized and all of the 'glycogenes' involved in these pathways cloned. Yet there has been a paucity of progress toward the development of therapeutics. However, recent studies aimed at controlled glycosylation of therapeutic antibodies and mucins with anticancer vaccine potential, the emergence of new and highly sensitive tools for the identification of tumor-associated biomarkers and the manipulation of the expression of glycogenes that inhibit brain tumor invasivity have emerged. The opportunity now exists to answer questions as to how glycogenes are regulated at the genomic and transcriptomic level and how altered glycogene expression patterns lead to altered cell surface glycoconjugates. These studies should lead to the development of ways to directly regulate tumor cell glycogene expression, which should have significant therapeutic potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1529-1545
Number of pages17
JournalExpert Review of Neurotherapeutics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009


  • Cell surface glycoconjugate
  • Ganglioside
  • Gene therapy
  • Glioma
  • Glycosyltransferase gene
  • Integrin
  • Invasivity
  • Microarray

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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