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Dr. Sandra van Vliet - A bitter sweet symphony: how glycans orchestrate immune evasion


Sandra van Vliet

VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands

A bitter sweet symphony: how glycans orchestrate  immune evasion

Glycans play a crucial role in shaping adaptive immune responses. The recognition of glycans by glycan-binding receptors, such as the Siglecs and C-type lectins, has illustrated their potent immune modulatory role and has implicated glycans not only in infectious diseases, but also revealed their extraordinary properties in tumor progression. We study how the “sugar blue print” is decoded by the immune system and how aberrant glycans orchestrate immune evasion during cancer. We generated synthetic glyco-dendrimers and studied their impact on immune signaling and dendritic cell responses. In addition, we developed a panel of glyco-engineered cancer cell lines to decipher the in vivo role of glycans during tumor development. Together, our results imply a direct effect of aberrant glycosylation on anti-tumor immunity, in both a carbohydrate-specific as well as tumor type-specific manner, confirming that tumor glycans should be considered as a powerful immune evasion strategy.


Selected references

  • Li et al. Using the glycan toolbox for pathogenic interventions and glycan immunotherapy. Curr Opin Biotechnol 51:24-31 (2017)
  • Cornelissen & van Vliet. A bitter sweet symphony: immune responses to altered O-glycan epitopes in cancer. Biomolecules 6(2). pii: E26 (2016)
  • Lenos et al. MGL ligand expression is correlated to BRAF mutation and associated with poor survival of stage III colon cancer patients. Oncotarget 6(28):26278-90 (2015)
  • van Vliet et al. MGL signaling augments TLR2-mediated responses for enhanced IL-10 and TNF-α secretion. J Leukoc Biol 94(2):315-323 (2013)
  • van Vliet et al. Regulation of effector T cells by antigen-presenting cells via interaction of the C-type lectin MGL with CD45. Nat Immunol 7(11), 1200-1208 (2006)


Contact: Yoann Rombouts (

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27 Feb

11:00 - 12:00

Seminar room - IPBS - Campus 205