Changes in cell surface glycosylation are a key feature of cancer initiation and progression. Sialic acid is a major glycan attached to extracellular proteins and lipids. Altered sialylation in cancer can impact at many levels and may result in improved cancer cell survival and spread. Here we focus on sialic acid-dependent interactions of tumour cells with sialic acid-binding Ig-like lectins (siglecs). These proteins are expressed broadly in the immune system and can modulate cellular functions in diverse ways. We discuss changes in sialylation commonly observed in tumours and the emerging role of siglecs in modulating both host immune responses and tumour responses.
- Immune system
- Sialic acid