Glycobiology and Disease


At the end of the course unit the learner is expected to be able to:

  • Associate the structure and biological function of glycans and the proteins that recognize them (lectins, adhesins);
  • Interpret the structure of glycans according to their class and biosynthetic pathway:
  • Determine the different ways in which glycosylation shapes the activity of immune receptors and impacts the immune response;
  • Classify the proteins that recognize glycans according to their specificity and biological function;
  • Name pathologies whose mechanisms involve glycans;
  • Refer advanced methodologies in glycobiology for the study of glycans;
  • Explain the basic principles of methodologies/technologies used to analyze the structure of glycans;
  • Interpret results of simple diagnostic tests used in clinical practice for congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG) and cancer;
  • Explore the relationship between glycan structures and the pathophysiological mechanisms behind certain pathological conditions (e.g. cancer and CDG);
  • List drugs based on glycans or glycoconjugates or on proteins that recognise and model them;
  • Formulate questions related to the diversity, function and recognition of glycans and their relevance in pathologies such as CDG, infection and cancer
  • Interpret scientific publications in the field of GlycoSciences;

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Paula Alexandra Quintela Videira


Weekly - 1

Total - 28

Teaching language



 Basic knowledge in Cell and Molecular Biology, Molecular Genetics, Microbiology and Biochemistry.


Essentials of Glycobiology –Varki A, Cummings RD, Esko JD, et al., editors. Essentials of Glycobiology. 4th edition. Cold Spring Harbor (NY): Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 2022-. Available free from: .

Introduction to Glycobiology –Third Edition Maureen E. Taylor and Kurt Drickamer, Oxford University Press, Inc., New York. 2011, ISBN 978-0-19-956911-3. Available to request in the library as a hard-copy.

Artigos científicos selecionados

Disponibilizados pelos docentes na página MOODLE da disciplina.

Teaching method

 The teaching will be in Portuguese and English (in the case of foreign students).  

The curricular unit is organized into eight themes, each comprising theoretical, theoretical/practical classes and practices. This course will be in b -learning format: i.e. it contains face-to-face classes with teachers and, in addition, a part of teaching is online (videos, documents, forums), making use of computers and the internet as teaching tools. There will be two-thirds of theoretical classes (b-learning) and one-third of practical classes. Theoretical classes include distance-learning classes, online content with resources and videos of teachers. The curricular unit covers tutorial strategies with distance learning sessions and discussion forums on topics of interest. The practical classes include innovative technology and allow students to work hands-on in a variety of laboratory techniques. In this way, the student will update and expand his knowledge in glycobiology and develop critical thinking for application in glycosylation-related diseases. With these teaching methodologies, the aim is to captivate the student from the beginning of the curricular unit, to foster an active and collaborative participation, to foment discussion and criticism, allowing the students to interrelate the various themes among themselves and create bases for eventual application of Glycobiology in their future work.

Evaluation method

 Attendance at theory classes is recommended and there is compulsory attendance at practical and theoretical-practical classes.

The marks are given based on these three parameters:
1) An individual written test with a weighting of 50%, which includes subject matter from the theoretical and practical classes. This test must have a grade higher than 9/20;
2) Presentation and discussion of a scientific article in the area with a weighting of 40%;
3) Class participation including questions posed on the moodle platform with a weighting of 10%;

The final mark is given by the sum of the test mark, plus the mark of the presentation and discussion of the scientific article and the mark of the participation. This sum should be higher than 9.5 points to pass the course.

In the case of the supplementary exam, the student must have attended the unit. The student may choose to take the entire examination, in which case it is worth 100%, or only the examination of the test, in which case it is worth 50%, retaining the mark obtained in the presentation and discussion of the scientific paper and the mark of the participation.

Subject matter


Type of class/ Syllabus



Introduction to the Curricular Unit/ Introduction to Glycobiology (part 1)

Paula Angelina Filipa


Theoretical: Introduction to Glycobiology (part 2): basic concepts of the glycan structural diversity



Theoretical: Biosynthesis of glycans – N- and O-glycosylation –ER-GOLGI secretory pathway and glycoprotein processing



Theoretical: Recognition of glycans by the immune system and immunomodulation. Inflammation and cell migration



Theoretical-practical: “Glycan-mediated microbial adhesion” - e-learning session





Theoretical: Molecular recognition of glycans by lectins in disease (infection and cancer). From structure to function. 



Theoretical-practical: Advanced methodologies in Glycobiology for the study of glycans – from molecules to cells



Theoretical-practical: “Mechanisms of cancer-associated glycosylation changes” - e-learning session





Practical: NMR for structural characterization of the glycan-protein interaction.



Practical: Glycan microarrays to assign glycan-binding specificity and glycan ligand discovery



Theoretical: Glycans and disease: Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation (CDGs) and human therapy









Presentation and discussion of scientific articles

Paula Angelina Filipa