Insights on N-glycosylation of human haptoglobin and its association with cancers

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Protein glycosylation is one of the most significant post-translation modifications and plays a critical role in various biological functions. Haptoglobin (Hp) is one of the acute-phase response proteins secreted by liver. Its glycosylation could be analyzed by many analytical techniques qualitatively and quantitatively. The glycosylation alterations of Hp are reported to be associated with different kinds of diseases. The main glycosylation alterations of Hp in cancer appear to be the presence of aberrantly fucosylated and sialylated structures as well as increased branching. In this mini review, we provided a brief overview of Hp structure and biological function, discussed its glycosylation alterations in different cancers, and described the existing technologies for analyzing glycosylation site and glycan of Hp. Given the importance of Hp glycosylation, its unknown and unclear biological complexity and significances, Hp glycosylation has become a major target in cancer research. Development of sensitive and specific detection of Hp glycosylation including large-scale validation may be significant steps forward to its clinical application.

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