Differential Distribution of Major Brain Gangliosides in the Adult Mouse Central Nervous System

Katarina Vajn, Barbara Viljetić, Ivan Večeslav Degmečić, Ronald L. Schnaar, Marija Heffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Gangliosides - sialic acid-bearing glycolipids - are major cell surface determinants on neurons and axons. The same four closely related structures, GM1, GD1a, GD1b and GT1b, comprise the majority of total brain gangliosides in mammals and birds. Gangliosides regulate the activities of proteins in the membranes in which they reside, and also act as cell-cell recognition receptors. Understanding the functions of major brain gangliosides requires knowledge of their tissue distribution, which has been accomplished in the past using biochemical and immunohistochemical methods. Armed with new knowledge about the stability and accessibility of gangliosides in tissues and new IgG-class specific monoclonal antibodies, we investigated the detailed tissue distribution of gangliosides in the adult mouse brain. Gangliosides GD1b and GT1b are widely expressed in gray and white matter. In contrast, GM1 is predominately found in white matter and GD1a is specifically expressed in certain brain nuclei/tracts. These findings are considered in relationship to the hypothesis that gangliosides GD1a and GT1b act as receptors for an important axon-myelin recognition protein, myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG). Mediating axon-myelin interactions is but one potential function of the major brain gangliosides, and more detailed knowledge of their distribution may help direct future functional studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere75720
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 30 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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