Epigenetic regulation of ganglioside expression in neural stem cells and neuronal cells

Yutaka Itokazu, Yi Tzang Tsai, Robert K. Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The structural diversity and localization of cell surface glycosphingolipids (GSLs), including gangliosides, in glycolipid-enriched microdomains (GEMs, also known as lipid rafts) render them ideally suited to play important roles in mediating intercellular recognition, interactions, adhesion, receptor function, and signaling. Gangliosides, sialic acid-containing GSLs, are most abundant in the nerve tissues. The quantity and expression pattern of gangliosides in brain change drastically throughout development and these changes are mainly regulated through stage-specific expression of glycosyltransferase genes. We previously demonstrated for the first time that efficient histone acetylation of the glycosyltransferase genes in mouse brain contributes to the developmental alteration of ganglioside expression. We further demonstrated that acetylation of histones H3 and H4 on the N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase I (GalNAcT, GA2/GM2/GD2/GT2-synthase; B4galnt1) gene promoter resulted in recruitment of trans-activation factors. In addition, we showed that epigenetic activation of the GalNAcT gene was detected and accompanied by an apparent induction of neuronal differentiation of neural stem cells (NSCs) responding to an exogenous supplement of ganglioside GM1. Most recently, we found that nuclear GM1 binds with acetylated histones on the promoters of the GalNAcT as well as on the NeuroD1 genes in differentiated neurons. Here, we will introduce epigenetic regulation of ganglioside synthase genes in neural development and neuronal differentiation of NSCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)749-756
Number of pages8
JournalGlycoconjugate Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain development
  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • Ganglioside
  • Glycosyltransferase
  • Histone acetylation
  • Neural stem cell
  • Neuronal differentiation
  • Neuronal progenitor cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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