Expression of GD2 and GD3 gangliosides in human embryonic neural stem cells

Makoto Yanagisawa, Saori Yoshimura, Robert K. Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


NSCs (neural stem cells) are undifferentiated neural cells endowed with a high potential for proliferation and a capacity for self-renewal with retention of multipotency to differentiate into neurons and glial cells. It has been recently reported that GD3, a b-series ganglioside, is a marker molecule for identifying and isolating mouse NSCs. However, the expression of gangliosides in human NSCs is largely unknown. In the present study, we analysed the expression of gangliosides, GD2 and GD3, in human NSCs that were isolated from human brains at gestational week 17 in the form of neurospheres, which are floating clonal aggregates formed by NSCs in vitro. Employing immunocytochemistry, we found that human NSCs were strongly reactive to anti-GD2 antibody and relatively weakly reactive to anti-GD3 antibody. Treatment of these cells with an organic solvent such as 100% methanol, which selectively removes glycolipids from plasma membrane, abolished the immunoreactivity with those antibodies, indicating that the reactivity was due to GD2 and GD3, but not to GD2-/GD3- like glycoproteins or proteoglycans. The immunoreactivity of human NSCs to antibody against SSEA-1 (stage-specific embryonic antigen-1), a well-known carbohydrate antigen of NSCs, was not decreased by the treatment with 100% methanol, indicating that SSEA-1 is mainly carried by glycoproteins and/or proteoglycans in human NSCs. Our study suggests that GD2 and GD3 can be marker gangliosides for identifying human NSCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASN Neuro
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 7 2011


  • Ganglioside
  • Glycosphingolipid (GSL)
  • Neural stem cell (NSC)
  • Neurosphere
  • Stage-specific embryonic antigen-1 (SSEA-1)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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