Synthesis and biological roles of O-glycans in insects

  • Weidong Li
  • Kristof De Schutter
  • Els J. M. Van Damme
  • Guy SmaggheEmail author
Original Article


Protein O-glycosylation is the attachment of carbohydrate structures to the oxygen atom in the hydroxyl group of Serine and Threonine residues. This post-translational modification is commonly found on the majority of proteins trafficking through the secretory pathway and is reported to influence protein characteristics such as folding, secretion, stability, solubility, oligomerization and intracellular localization. In addition, O-glycosylation is essential for cell-cell interactions, protein-protein interactions and many biological processes, such as stress response, immunization, phosphorylation, ubiquitination, cell division, metabolism and cell signaling. The availability of sequenced genomes and genetic tools to create mutants with clear phenotypes makes insects an interesting model system to study O-glycosylation. In this review, we provide an overview of the current knowledge of O-glycosylation, mainly obtained from the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, with a focus on the synthesis and biological roles of the common O-glycans in insects.


Protein O-glycosylation O-glycans Drosophila melanogaster Function Glycoproteins 



This work is supported by the Special Research Fund from Ghent University (Belgium). W.L. is a recipient of a Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) scholarship.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Agrozoology, Department of Plants and Crops, Faculty of Bioscience EngineeringGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory of Biochemistry and Glycobiology, Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Bioscience EngineeringGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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