Published online Apr 27, 2010. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v2.i4.151
Revised: April 8, 2010
Accepted: April 15, 2010
Published online: April 27, 2010
Fucose (6-deoxy-L-galactose) is a monosaccharide that is found on glycoproteins and glycolipids in verte-brates, invertebrates, plants, and bacteria. Fucosylation, which comprises the transfer of a fucose residue to oligosaccharides and proteins, is regulated by many kinds of molecules, including fucosyltransferases, GDP-fucose synthetic enzymes, and GDP-fucose transporter(s). Dramatic changes in the expression of fucosylated oligosaccharides have been observed in cancer and inflammation. Thus, monoclonal antibodies and lectins recognizing cancer-associated fucosylated oligosaccharides have been clinically used as tumor markers for the last few decades. Recent advanced glycomic approaches allow us to identify novel fucosylation-related tumor markers. Moreover, a growing body of evidence supports the functional significance of fucosylation at various pathophysiological steps of carcinogenesis and tumor progression. This review highlights the biological and medical significance of fucosylation in gastrointestinal cancer.