Forças evolucionárias modelando a maquinaria da glicosilação de Golgi

quinta-feira, abril 28, 2011

Evolutionary Forces Shaping the Golgi Glycosylation Machinery: Why Cell Surface Glycans Are Universal to Living Cells

Ajit Varki

Author Affiliations

Glycobiology Research and Training Center, Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093



Despite more than 3 billion years since the origin of life on earth, the powerful forces of biological evolution seem to have failed to generate any living cell that is devoid of a dense and complex array of cell surface glycans. Thus, cell surface glycans seem to be as essential for life as having a DNA genetic code, diverse RNAs, structural/functional proteins, lipid-based membranes, and metabolites that mediate energy flux and signaling. The likely reasons for this apparently universal law of biology are considered here, and include the fact that glycans have the greatest potential for generating diversity, and thus evading recognition by pathogens. This may also explain why in striking contrast to the genetic code, glycans show widely divergent patterns between taxa. On the other hand, glycans have also been coopted for myriad intrinsic functions, which can vary in their importance for organismal survival. In keeping with these considerations, a significant percentage of the genes in the typical genome are dedicated to the generation and/or turnover of glycans. Among eukaryotes, the Golgi is the subcellular organelle that serves to generate much of the diversity of cell surface glycans, carrying out various glycan modifications of glycoconjugates that transit through the Golgi, en route to the cell surface or extracellular destinations. Here I present an overview of general considerations regarding the selective forces shaping evolution of the Golgi glycosylation machinery, and then briefly discuss the common types of variations seen in each major class of glycans, finally focusing on sialic acids as an extreme example of evolutionary glycan diversity generated by the Golgi. Future studies need to address both the phylogenetic diversity the Golgi and the molecular mechanisms for its rapid responses to intrinsic and environmental stimuli.

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