A common phenotypic change in cancer is a dramatic transformation of cellular glycosylation. Functional studies of particular tumour-associated oligosaccharides are difficult to interpret conclusively, but carbohydrate-binding proteins are likely to contribute to progression of the tumour. This review discusses the potential role of CLRs (C-type lectin receptors), expressed by antigen-presenting cells of the immune system, in tumour recognition and immune modulation. Studies in recent years have provided significant insight into the immunomodulatory function of CLR during infections, but their role in cancer remains elusive; some strongly bind tumour cells and antigens, indicating participation in malignancy. The potential to use recombinant CLR as diagnostic tools will also be discussed.

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