Ganglioside Distribution at Different Levels of Organization and its Biological Implications

  • Yoshitaka Nagai
  • Masao Iwamori
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 174)


More than 100 molecular species of glycosphingolipids (GSL) having different carbohydrate chains have so far been isolated and characterized from various mammalian tissues and cells. They are classified into seven general types according to their asialo-carbohydrate structures (Table 1), which are biosynthesized via their own defined pathways. Although the systematic analysis of GSL on various cell surfaces, especially on erythrocyte membranes of various animal species, indicates that the biosynthetic pathways including the termination or modification of carbohydrate chain is under the regulation of genetic control, as shown in the case of blood group antigens, recent observations strongly indicate that the environmental or nongenomic information-dependent modification of carbohydrate chains including the induction of new biosynthetic pathways occurs at various cellular levels outside of the nuclei. Such dual nature of GSL imposes some difficulty when we attempt to identify the exact role of GSL in cell function. The knowledge of GSL distribution is helpful in recognizing the basic structure and the type of modification of the carbohydrate chain in morphologically or functionally specified cells in relation to cell function, differentiation, transformation and other cellular activities.


Carbohydrate Chain Brain Ganglioside Extraneural Tissue Ganglioside Composition Individual Ganglioside 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoshitaka Nagai
    • 1
  • Masao Iwamori
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TokyoBunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113Japan

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