What is the word for membrane proteins that have carbohydrates attached to them?

1 Answer
Jun 22, 2017



A membrane protein that has a carbohydrate (sugar) attached is called a glycoprotein.

Khan Academy

Membrane glycoproteins have various roles in cell communication, including:

  • cell-to-cell recognition - glycoproteins can bind together if they find a glycoprotein that "matches" on another cell
  • helping the immune system recognize foreign invaders
  • acting as a receptor: viruses use glycoproteins embedded in the plasma membrane to bind to cells, and protein-based hormones bind to receptors in the cell membrane
  • differentiating blood types: the different blood types (A, B, AB, and O) are due to certain glycoproteins being absent or present on the cell membrane