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Keywords:

  • gangliosides;
  • glycosphingolipids;
  • glycosyltransferases;
  • Golgi;
  • Golgi retention motifs

J. Neurochem. (2011) 117, 589–602.

Abstract

Brain tissue is characterized by its high glycosphingolipid content, particularly those containing sialic acid (gangliosides). As a result of this observation, brain tissue was a focus for studies leading to the characterization of the enzymes participating in ganglioside biosynthesis, and their participation in driving the compositional changes that occur in glycolipid expression during brain development. Later on, this focus shifted to the study of cellular aspects of the synthesis, which lead to the identification of the site of synthesis in the neuronal soma and their axonal transport toward the periphery. In this review article, we will focus in subcellular aspects of the biosynthesis of glycosphingolipid oligosaccharides, particularly the mechanisms underlying the trafficking of glycosphingolipid glycosyltransferases from the endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi, those that promote their retention in the Golgi and those that participate in their topological organization as part of the complex membrane bound machinery for the synthesis of glycosphingolipids.