Introduction

The outer surface of mammalian cells is covered by glycoproteins and glycolipids. Substantial biochemical and immunochemical evidence suggests that cell surface carbohydrates play significant roles in development and health (1,2). However, functional studies of cell surface carbohydrates still leave many questions unanswered. In the last decade, genetic approaches and sophisticated chemical analyses have enabled us to reveal the function of specific carbohydrate structures in vivo, and as a result we are just starting to understand the role of carbohydrates in development and disease. In this chapter, we discuss the roles of cell surface carbohydrates in development, while focusing on embryo implantation, spermatogene-sis, and tissue maturation. We also describe the role of carbohydrates in cancer and discuss therapeutic applications of carbohydrate-based drug discovery.

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