The Biology of Gangliosides

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

24 Scopus citations


Gangliosides comprise a varied family of glycosphingolipid structures bearing one or more sialic acid residues. They are found in all mammalian tissues but are most abundant in the brain, where they represent the quantitatively major class of sialoglycans. As prominent molecular determinants on cell surfaces, they function as molecular-recognition partners for diverse glycan-binding proteins ranging from bacterial toxins to endogenous cell–cell adhesion molecules. Gangliosides also regulate the activity of plasma membrane proteins, including protein tyrosine kinases, by lateral association in the same membranes in which they reside. Their roles in molecular recognition and membrane protein regulation implicate gangliosides in human physiology and pathology, including infectious diseases, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegeneration. The varied structures and biosynthetic pathways of gangliosides are presented here, along with representative examples of their biological functions in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSialic Acids, Part II
Subtitle of host publicationBiological and Biomedical Aspects
EditorsDavid C. Baker
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages36
ISBN (Print)9780128171479
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Publication series

NameAdvances in Carbohydrate Chemistry and Biochemistry
ISSN (Print)0065-2318


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Bacterial toxins
  • Insulin receptor
  • Intellectual disability
  • Myelin-associated glycoprotein
  • Peripheral neuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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