There is no doubt that the immense amount of information that is being generated by the initial sequencing and secondary interrogation of various genomes will change the face of glycobiological research. However, a major area of concern is that detailed structural knowledge of the ultimate products of genes that are identified as being involved in glycoconjugate biosynthesis is still limited. This is illustrated clearly by the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, which was the first multicellular organism to have its entire genome sequenced. To date, only limited structural data on the glycosylated molecules of this organism have been reported. Our laboratory is addressing this problem by performing detailed MS structural characterization of the N-linked glycans of C. elegans; high-mannose structures dominate, with only minor amounts of complex-type structures. Novel, highly fucosylated truncated structures are also present which are difucosylated on the proximal N-acetylglucosamine of the chitobiose core as well as containing unusual Fucα1–2Gal1–2Man as peripheral structures. The implications of these results in terms of the identification of ligands for genomically predicted lectins and potential glycosyltransferases are discussed in this chapter. Current knowledge on the glycomes of other model organisms such as Dictyostelium discoideum, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Drosophila melanogaster is also discussed briefly.
- © 2002 The Biochemical Society