carbohydrates and proliferation

Karen Lona Allendoerfer ravena at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Tue Nov 29 13:48:34 EST 1994

Hello, everyone! 
        This newsgroup has just arrived at Caltech, but I haven't been able
to read any messages posted to it yet.  
        I was trained as a developmental neurobiologist, but my recent work
on a monoclonal antibody has brought me into the field of glycobiology,
since the antibody appears to recognize a carbohydrate epitope expressed on
dividing cells in developing brain.
        I am curious about carbohydrate epitopes and their connections with
proliferation in general; for example, S. Hakomori and others report that
the LeX and Si-LeX epitopes often seem to be re-expressed in cancers
(adenocarcinoma, ovarian cancer).  I have also read that the Erythrina
Cristagalli Lectin (ECL), that binds to galactosyl (beta1-4)
N-acetylglucosamine, is mitogenic to human peripheral T lymphocytes, and
that various milk oligosaccharides can be anti-mitogenic to a glioblastoma
cell line (the work of Nieto-Sampedro et al.).  
        What I am puzzled about is what role people think that
carbohydrates might be playing in proliferation.  Are the carbohydrate
modifications "cause" or "effect," i.e. are they upstream or downstream to
oncogenic transformation?  Are they modifications of protein or lipid
ligands that enable the ligands to bind better to some putative receptor? 
Are there any candidates for such receptors?  There is data showing that
the selectin family binds to Si-LeX, but are selectins also associated with
or re-expressed during normal or abnormal proliferation?  What about signal
transduction events associated with carbohydrate binding?  
        I apologize if these questions seem very naive; I have tried to
search databases using terms like "carbohydrate" and "proliferation," but
haven't come up with anything very satisfactory.  I would be interested in
discussion and speculations (even hand-waving :-)) from glycobiology
experts, as well as references.

        Thanks very much--

Karen L. Allendoerfer, Ph.D.

Karen Allendoerfer                                                         
    Division of Biology
ravena at cco.caltech.edu                                                     
 216-76 Caltech
                       Pasadena, CA 91125  USA
                       (818) 395-6827

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