Human-Specific Changes in Sialic Acid Biology

  • Toshiyuki Hayakawa
  • Ajit Varki
Part of the Primatology Monographs book series (PrimMono)


Sialic acids are components of cell-surface glycans and play important roles in cell–cell communication and host–pathogen interaction. More than 55 genes, encoding receptors, enzymes, and transporters, are known to be involved in sialic acid biology. Nearly 10 years of research have revealed that several of these genes show human-specific changes in genome structure, expression, or function. In this chapter, we introduce these human-specific changes and their possible impact on the human evolution. Also, we give an overview of the evolution of sialic acid biology in primates. The discovery of human-specific changes in sialic acid biology is one step toward explaining the genetic basis of human uniqueness, one of the major activities in primatology, contributing to answering a transdisciplinary question: What makes us human?


Sialic Acid Gene Conversion Sialic Acid Residue Human Lineage Paired Receptor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



CMP-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase


Cytidine monophospho-2-keto-3 deoxynonulosonic acid


Cytidine monophospho-N-acetylneuraminic acid


Cytidine monophospho-N-glycolylneuraminic acid






Immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif


2-Keto-3 deoxynonulosonic acid


N-Acetylneuraminic acid


N-Glycolylneuraminic acid


Sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin superfamily lectin


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Copyright information

© Springer 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Human Evolution Modeling Research, Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyamaJapan
  2. 2.Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny, Glycobiology Research and Training Center, Departments of Medicine and Cellular & Molecular MedicineUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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