Glycoproteins are protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

s that contain oligosaccharide
An oligosaccharide is a saccharide polymer containing a small number of component sugars, also known as simple sugars...

 chains (glycans
The term glycan refers to a polysaccharide or oligosaccharide. Glycans usually consist solely of O-glycosidic linkages of monosaccharides. For example, cellulose is a glycan composed of beta-1,4-linked D-glucose, and chitin is a glycan composed of beta-1,4-linked N-acetyl-D-glucosamine...

) covalently attached to polypeptide
Peptides are short polymers of amino acid monomers linked by peptide bonds. They are distinguished from proteins on the basis of size, typically containing less than 50 monomer units. The shortest peptides are dipeptides, consisting of two amino acids joined by a single peptide bond...

 side-chains. The carbohydrate is attached to the protein in a cotranslational
Translation (genetics)
In molecular biology and genetics, translation is the third stage of protein biosynthesis . In translation, messenger RNA produced by transcription is decoded by the ribosome to produce a specific amino acid chain, or polypeptide, that will later fold into an active protein...

 or posttranslational modification
Posttranslational modification
Posttranslational modification is the chemical modification of a protein after its translation. It is one of the later steps in protein biosynthesis, and thus gene expression, for many proteins....

. This process is known as glycosylation
Glycosylation is the reaction in which a carbohydrate, i.e. a glycosyl donor, is attached to a hydroxyl or other functional group of another molecule . In biology glycosylation refers to the enzymatic process that attaches glycans to proteins, lipids, or other organic molecules...

. In proteins that have segments extending extracellularly, the extracellular segments are often glycosylated. Glycoproteins are often important integral membrane proteins, where they play a role in cell–cell interactions.