Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) and their sialic acid-containing derivatives, gangliosides, are important cellular components and are abundant in the nervous system. They are known to undergo dramatic changes during brain development. However, knowledge on the mechanisms underlying their qualitative and qualitative changes is still fragmentary. In this investigation, we have provided a detailed study on the developmental changes of the expression patterns of GSLs, GM3, GM1, GD3, GD1a, GD2, GD1b, GT1b, GQ1b, A2B5 antigens (c-series gangliosides such as GT3 and GQ1c), Chol-1α (GT1aα and GQ1bα), glucosylceramide, galactosylceramide (O1 antigen), sulfatide (O4 antigen), stage-specific embryonic antigen-1 (Lewis x) glycolipids, and human natural killer-1 glycolipid (sulfoglucuronosyl paragloboside) in developing mouse brains [embryonic day 12 (E12) to adult]. In E12-E14 brains, GD3 was a predominant ganglioside. After E16, the concentrations of GD3 and GM3 markedly decreased, and the concentrations of a-series gangliosides, such as GD1a, increased. GT3, glucosylceramide, and stage-specific embryonic antigen-1 were expressed in embryonic brains. Human natural killer-1 glycolipid was expressed transiently in embryonic brains. On the other hand, Chol-1α, galactosylceramide, and sulfatide were exclusively found after birth. To provide a better understanding of the metabolic basis for these changes, we analyzed glycogene expression patterns in the developing brains and found that GSL expression is regulated primarily by glycosyltransferases, and not by glycosidases. In parallel studies using primary neural precursor cells in culture as a tool for studying developmental events, dramatic changes in ganglioside and glycosyltransferase gene expression were also detected in neurons induced to differentiate from neural precursor cells, including the expression of GD3, followed by up-regulation of complex a- and b-series gangliosides. These changes in cell culture systems resemble that occurring in brain. We conclude that the dramatic changes in GSL pattern and content can serve as useful markers in neural development and that these changes are regulated primarily at the level of glycosyltransferase gene expression.
- Brain development
- Neural precursor cell
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience