A New Approach to the Analysis of Ganglioside Molecular Species

  • Yoshitaka Nagai
  • Masao Iwamori
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 125)


Recent advancement in structural analysis of gangliosides has revealed that the world of ganglioside molecular species is unexpectedly full of variety (1). Gangliosides having a novel structure are increasing in number and most of them are present as minor components. This situation suggests that gangliosides are uniquely qualified for the specific and diversified functions of the cell surface membranes. As regards gangliosides of the nervous tissues, they occur in the highest concentration in these tissues, particularly in the synaptosome, and are thought to be participating in a synaptic transmission. A recent observation that gangliosides play a role in a calcium-mediated release of serotonin from synaptosome (2) supports the presumable function in the nerve ending. The other suggestive observations that gangliosides are closely related to the synaptic transmission have been obtained from the experiments using bacterial neurotoxins. The toxins from Clostridium tetani and Clostridium botulinum, that are known to inhibit releasing of transmitter, have been shown to bind the specific gangliosides in vitro (3,4). But the exact function of gangliosides in the nervous tissues is still not clear. On the other hand, arising from the in vitro experiments for binding of bacterial toxins to gangliosides the functional significance of gangliosides as receptors or antigen molecules has been emphasized by a number of investigators. Such experiments that are aiming to identify the specificity of membrane function by the definite carbohydrate entity require the use of absolutely pure gangliosides as a prerequisite, and very frequently necessitate to make a careful survey of molecular species of the membrane carrying that function. For such purpose, an improved method for the purification and characterization of gangliosides has been developed in this laboratory.


Peripheral Nerve Sialic Acid Brain Ganglioside Ganglioside Composition Individual Ganglioside 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoshitaka Nagai
    • 1
  • Masao Iwamori
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryTokyo Metropolitan Institute of GerontologyItabashi-ku, Tokyo 173Japan

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