Background: One of the new roles for enzymes in personalized medicine builds on a rational approach to cancer biomarker discovery using enzyme-associated aberrant glycosylation. A hallmark of cancer, aberrant glycosylation is associated with differential expressions of enzymes such as glycosyltransferase and glycosidases. The aberrant expressions of the enzymes in turn cause cancer cells to produce glycoproteins with specific cancer-associated aberrations in glycan structures. Content. In this review we provide examples of cancer biomarker discovery using aberrant glycosylation in three areas. First, changes in glycosylation machinery such as glycosyltransferases/glycosidases could be used as cancer biomarkers. Second, most of the clinically useful cancer biomarkers are glycoproteins. Discovery of specific cancer-associated aberrations in glycan structures of these existing biomarkers could improve their cancer specificity, such as the discovery of AFP-L3, fucosylated glycoforms of AFP. Third, cancer-associated aberrations in glycan structures provide a compelling rationale for discovering new biomarkers using glycomic and glycoproteomic technologies. Summary. As a hallmark of cancer, aberrant glycosylation allows for the rational design of biomarker discovery efforts. But more important, we need to translate these biomarkers from discovery to clinical diagnostics using good strategies, such as the lessons learned from translating the biomarkers discovered using proteomic technologies to OVA 1, the first FDA-cleared In Vitro Diagnostic Multivariate Index Assay (IVDMIA). These lessons, providing important guidance in current efforts in biomarker discovery and translation, are applicable to the discovery of aberrant glycosylation associated with enzymes as cancer biomarkers as well.
- Aberrant Glycosylation
- Cancer Biomarkers