Glycans – the sweet difference - On Biology

It's easy to forget that there's much more behind our individuality than
genetics. A guest blog by Professor Vlatka Zoldos looks at the
epigenetics of glycan protein modifications, and how this has been
evolutionarily advantageous.
Glycan structure (tagged onto many proteins) is not determined with a single gene, but rather by a complex dynamic network of many genes. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in any of these genes may affect the final structure of a glycan consisting of several monosaccharides. Moreover, the network responsible for biosynthesis of glycans includes a number of small metabolites that are influenced by various environmental factors. Therefore glycans are not defined simply by a genetic script, but also by various environmental factors that could either be currently present in the environment, or acted sometime in our early environment (during intrauterine development) and left marks in the epigenetic memory.

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