Beginner's Guide

For those looking for an insight into glycobiology as a field, a freely available online resource and a must-read is the 2nd Edition of the "Essentials of Glycobiology" from Ajit Varki, Richard D. Cummings, Jeffrey D. Esko, Hudson H. Freeze, Pamela Stanley, Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Gerald W. Hart and Marilynn E. Etzler. Another excellent source, which is also suitable for undergraduate students, is the 3rd Edition of the "Introduction to Glycobiology" from Maureen E. Taylor and Kurt Drickamer.

One of the challenges evolving from the diversity and complexity of glycoconjugates and their glycan structures is the nomenclature. The Consortium for Functional Glycomics, among other things, offers a brief yet powerful guide to glycan nomenclature.

There is range of software tools available for depicting glycan structures and annotation of corresponding mass spectra. One of the most commonly used software is "Glycoworkbench". Obviously, individual symbols representing building blocks of a glycan can be also drawn in your favourite software package (e.g., Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Microsoft Powerpoint etc.).

Numerous macromolecules are involved in synthesis and transport of glycoconjugates. These include enzymes involved in biosynthesis of activated sugars, transporters of activated sugars, glycosyltransferases and glycosidases. The latter two are the major groups of carbohydrate-active enzymes catalogued in the CAZy database. In addition, the Nomenclature Committee of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (NC-IUBMB) has issued recommendations on the nomenclature of glycosyltransferases and glycosylases.