Glycoconjugate Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 11, pp 731–739 | Cite as

The presence of N-acetylneuraminic acid in Malpighian tubules of larvae of the cicada Philaenus spumarius

  • Yanina N. Malykh
  • Brigitte Krisch
  • Rita Gerardy-Schahn
  • Elena B. Lapina
  • Lee Shaw
  • Roland Schauer


Sialic acid-containing glycoconjugates are generally considered to be unique to the deuterostomes, a lineage of the animal kingdom which includes animals from the echinoderms up to the vertebrates. There are, however, two isolated reports of sialic acid occurring in the insect species Drosophila melanogaster and Galleria mellonella. Since insects are classified as protostomes, these findings call previous assumption on the phylogenetic distribution and thus on the evolution of sialic acids into question. Here, we report the occurrence of N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) in larvae of the cicada Philaenus spumarius. Cytochemical analysis of larval sections with lectins from Sambucus nigra and Limax flavus suggested the presence of sialic acids in the concrement vacuoles of the Malpighian tubules. The monoclonal antibody MAb 735, which is specific for polysialic acid, labelled the same structures. A chemical analysis performed by HPLC of fluorescent derivatives of sialic acids and by GLC-MS provided sound evidence for the presence of Neu5Ac in the Philaenus spumarius larvae. These data suggest that in this cicada Neu5Ac occurs in α2,8-linked polysialic acid structures and in α2,6-linkages. The results provide further evidence for the existence of sialic acids in insects and in linkages known to occur in glycoconjugates of deuterostomate origin.

N-acetylneuraminic acid polysialic acid insects lectins Malpighian tubules 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yanina N. Malykh
    • 1
    • 3
  • Brigitte Krisch
    • 2
  • Rita Gerardy-Schahn
    • 4
  • Elena B. Lapina
  • Lee Shaw
    • 1
  • Roland Schauer
    • 1
  1. 1.Biochemisches InstitutChristian-Albrechts-Universität KielKielGermany and
  2. 2.Anatomisches InstitutChristian-Albrechts-Universität KielKielGermany
  3. 3.Shemyakin & Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, ulMoscowRussian Federation
  4. 4.Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie, Medizinische Hochschule HannoverHannoverGermany

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