Glycosphingolipid biosynthesis in early chick embryos


Correspondence to H. Wiegandt, Physiologisch-Chemisches Institut, Philipps-Universität, Lahnberge, Karl-von-Frisch-Straβe, D-3550 Marburg/Lahn, Federal Republic of Germany.


Early chick embryos at the age of 22 h (neurula stage) and 48 h (20–25 somite stage) were explanted from eggs and cultured in vitro in the presence of radioactive sugar precursors. Metabolically labelled glycosphingolipids were isolated. Amongst these, neutral and acidic components, the latter including sulfatide and gangliosides, were identified. Cleavage by exoglycosidases, as well as immunostaining with antibodies on thin-layer plates, showed that at both embryonic stages glycosphingolipids were synthesized that belong to the globo series (globoside, Forssman glycolipid), the lacto series (lactoneotetraosylceramide, nLc4Cer, and two nLc4Cer-based gangliosides, a monosialo and a disialo species), and the ganglio series (ganglioside Gtet1a and higher sialylated derivatives).