Biomolecules (Feb 2021)

Current Views on the Roles of <i>O</i>-Glycosylation in Controlling Notch-Ligand Interactions

  • Wataru Saiki,
  • Chenyu Ma,
  • Tetsuya Okajima,
  • Hideyuki Takeuchi

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 2
p. 309


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The 100th anniversary of Notch discovery in Drosophila has recently passed. The Notch is evolutionarily conserved from Drosophila to humans. The discovery of human-specific Notch genes has led to a better understanding of Notch signaling in development and diseases and will continue to stimulate further research in the future. Notch receptors are responsible for cell-to-cell signaling. They are activated by cell-surface ligands located on adjacent cells. Notch activation plays an important role in determining the fate of cells, and dysregulation of Notch signaling results in numerous human diseases. Notch receptors are primarily activated by ligand binding. Many studies in various fields including genetics, developmental biology, biochemistry, and structural biology conducted over the past two decades have revealed that the activation of the Notch receptor is regulated by unique glycan modifications. Such modifications include O-fucose, O-glucose, and O-N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) on epidermal growth factor-like (EGF) repeats located consecutively in the extracellular domain of Notch receptors. Being fine-tuned by glycans is an important property of Notch receptors. In this review article, we summarize the latest findings on the regulation of Notch activation by glycosylation and discuss future challenges.