Structures, biosynthesis, and functions of gangliosides-an overview

Robert K. Yu, Yi Tzang Tsai, Toshio Ariga, Makoto Yanagisawa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

261 Scopus citations


Gangliosides are sialic acid-containing glycosphingolipids that are most abundant in the nervous system. Heterogeneity and diversity of the structures in their carbohydrate chains are characteristic hallmarks of these lipids; so far, 188 gangliosides with different carbohydrate structures have been identified in vertebrates. The molecular structural complexity increases manifold if one considers heterogeneity in the lipophilic components. The expression levels and patterns of brain gangliosides are known to change drastically during development. In cells, gangliosides are primarily, but not exclusively, localized in the outer leaflets of plasma membranes and are integral components of cell surface microdomains with sphingomyelin and cholesterol from which they participate in cell-cell recognition, adhesion, and signal transduction. In this brief review, we discuss the structures, metabolism and functions of gangliosides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-544
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Oleo Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Glycosphingolipid
  • Glycosyltransferase
  • Knockout mouse
  • Neural stem cell
  • Stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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