The role of glycosphingolipid metabolism in the developing brain

Robert K. Yu, Yoshihiko Nakatani, Makoto Yanagisawa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

207 Scopus citations


Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) are amphipathic lipids ubiquitously expressed in all vertebrate cells and body fluids, but they are especially abundant in the nervous system. The synthesis of GSLs generally is initiated in the endoplasmic reticulum and completed in the Golgi apparatus, followed by transportation to the plasma membrane surface as an integral component. The amount and expression patterns of GSLs change drastically in brains during the embryonic to postnatal stages. Recent studies have revealed that GSLs are highly localized in cell surface microdomains and function as important components that mediate signal transduction and cell adhesion. Also in developing brains, GSLs are suggested to play important roles in nervous system formation. Disturbance of GSL expression and metabolism affects brain function, resulting in a variety of diseases, particularly lysosomal storage diseases. In this review, we describe some aspects of the roles of GSLs, especially of gangliosides, in brain development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S440-S445
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue numberSUPPL.
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain function
  • Ganglioside
  • Glycogene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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