Protein O-mannosylation in animal development and physiology: From human disorders to Drosophila phenotypes Academic Article uri icon


  • Protein O-mannosylation has a profound effect on the development and physiology of mammalian organisms. Mutations in genes affecting O-mannosyl glycan biosynthesis result in congenital muscular dystrophies. The main pathological mechanism triggered by O-mannosylation defects is a compromised interaction of cells with the extracellular matrix due to abnormal glycosylation of alpha-dystroglycan. Hypoglycosylation of alpha-dystroglycan impairs its ligand-binding activity and results in muscle degeneration and failure of neuronal migration. Recent experiments revealed the existence of compensatory mechanisms that could ameliorate defects of O-mannosylation. However, these mechanisms remain poorly understood. O-mannosylation and dystroglycan pathway genes show remarkable evolutionary conservation in a wide range of metazoans. Mutations and downregulation of these genes in zebrafish and Drosophila result in muscle defects and degeneration, also causing neurological phenotypes, which suggests that O-mannosylation has similar functions in mammals and lower animals. Thus, future studies in genetically tractable model organisms, such as zebrafish and Drosophila, should help to reveal molecular and genetic mechanisms of mammalian O-mannosylation and its role in the regulation of dystroglycan function.

author list (cited authors)

  • Nakamura, N., Lyalin, D., & Panin, V. M.

citation count

  • 27

publication date

  • April 2010