Molecular Functions of Glycoconjugates in Autophagy

Kamau Fahie, Natasha E. Zachara

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Glycoconjugates, glycans, carbohydrates, and sugars: these terms encompass a class of biomolecules that are diverse in both form and function ranging from free oligosaccharides, glycoproteins, and proteoglycans, to glycolipids that make up a complex glycan code that impacts normal physiology and disease. Recent data suggest that one mechanism by which glycoconjugates impact physiology is through the regulation of the process of autophagy. Autophagy is a degradative pathway necessary for differentiation, organism development, and the maintenance of cell and tissue homeostasis. In this review, we will highlight what is known about the regulation of autophagy by glycoconjugates focusing on signaling mechanisms from the extracellular surface and the regulatory roles of intracellular glycans. Glycan signaling from the extracellular matrix converges on “master” regulators of autophagy including AMPK and mTORC1, thus impacting their localization, activity, and/or expression. Within the intracellular milieu, gangliosides are constituents of the autophagosome membrane, a subset of proteins composing the autophagic machinery are regulated by glycosylation, and oligosaccharide exposure in the cytosol triggers an autophagic response. The examples discussed provide some mechanistic insights into glycan regulation of autophagy and reveal areas for future investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3305-3324
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 14 2016


  • Autophagy
  • Glycoconjugate
  • Glycosylation
  • Lectin
  • O-GlcNAc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular Functions of Glycoconjugates in Autophagy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this