β4-Galactosyltransferase-II, -III, -IV, -V, -VI, and -VII

  • Kiyoshi Furukawa
  • Henrik Clausen


The Galβ1→4GlcNAc structure is commonly found in the outer chain moieties of N-and O-linked oligosaccharides, and in the oligosaccharides of lacto-series glycolipids. The terminal galactose itself is involved in galectin-mediated biological events, including apoptosis (Perillo et al. 1995), and many biologically active carbohydrate determinants involved in cell adhesion processes, such as polysialic acid, HNK-1 carbohydrate, poly-N-acetyllactosamine, Lewis X, and sialyl Lewis X, are expressed on the disaccharide groups. Therefore, β4-galactosyltransferase (β4GalT), which transfers galactose from UDP-Gal to N-acetylglucosamine, is one of the key enzymes in glycobiology. Targeted inactivation of the mouse β4GalT gene showed that the galactose and/or galactose-containing oligosaccharides are important for cell growth and differentiation, and that murine cells contain another β4GalT which produces the residual Galβ1→4GlcNAc groups found in the N-linked oligosaccharides of the mutant mouse (Asano et al. 1997; Kido et al. 1998; Lu et al. 1997). Since Lewis X-containing oligosaccharides inhibited the compaction of mouse embryos (Bird and Kimber 1984), and since a β4GalT-knockout mouse can survive beyond birth (Asano et al. 1997; Lu et al. 1997), the galactose-containing oligosaccharides synthesized by novel β4GalT could be important for the early development of mammalian embryos. To date, six novel human genes, five novel mouse genes, one novel rat gene, and one novel chicken gene which encode proteins with β4GalT activity have been cloned (see databank) (reviewed by Amado et al. 1999; Furukawa and Sato 1999). In addition to these, the mouse contains one more gene (accession No. D3779) which encodes a protein with β4GalT activity toward N-acetylglucosamine (Uehara and Muramatsu 1997). However, this enzyme is totally different from β4GalT-I-VII based on the sequence similarities. There are also several genes homologous to mammalian β4GalTs in invertebrates such as the nematode and snail (reviewed by Lo et al. 1998; Amado et al. 1999). This review mainly summarizes the properties of six novel human β4GalTs, although their acceptor specificities have not yet been established.


Polysialic Acid Short Sequence Motif Cell Adhesion Process Search Nucleotide Sequence Transferase Gene Family 
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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kiyoshi Furukawa
    • 1
  • Henrik Clausen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biosignal ResearchTokyo Metropolitan Institute of GerontologyTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of Health SciencesSchool of DentistryCopenhagen NDenmark

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