This article needs attention from an expert on the subject. Please add a reason or a talk parameter to this template to explain the issue with the article. Consider associating this request with a WikiProject. (July 2013)

Structure of GM1 ganglioside

A ganglioside is a molecule composed of a glycosphingolipid (ceramide and oligosaccharide) with one or more sialic acids (e.g. n-acetylneuraminic acid, NANA) linked on the sugar chain. NeuNAc, an acetylated derivative of the carbohydrate sialic acid, makes the head groups of gangliosides anionic at pH 7, which distinguishes them from globosides.
The name ganglioside was first applied by the German scientist Ernst Klenk in 1942 to lipids newly isolated from ganglion cells of the brain.[1] More than 60 gangliosides are known, which differ from each other mainly in the position and number of NANA residues. It is a component of the cell plasma membrane that modulates cell signal transduction events, and appears to concentrate in lipid rafts[citation needed].
Recently, gangliosides have been found to be highly important molecules in immunology. Natural and semisynthetic gangliosides are considered possible therapeutics for neurodegenerative disorders.[2]


1 Location
2 Function
3 Common gangliosides

3.1 Structures of the common gangliosides

4 Pathology
5 References
6 External links

Gangliosides are present and concentrated on cell surfaces, with the two hydrocarbon chains of the ceramide moiety embedded in the plasma membrane and the oligosaccharides located on the extracellular surface, where they present points of recognition for extracellular molecules or surfaces of neighboring cells. They are found predominantly in the nervous system where they constitute 6% of all phospholipids.[3]
The oligosaccharide groups on gangliosides extend well beyond the surfaces of the cell membranes, and act as distinguishing surface markers that can serve as specific determinants in cellular recognition and cell-to-cell communication. These carbohydrate head groups also act as specific receptors for certain pituitary glycoprotein hormones and certain bacterial protein toxins such as cholera toxin.
The functions of gangliosides as specific determinants suggest its important role in the growth and differentiation of tissues as well as in carcinogenesis. It has been found that tumor formation can induce the synthesis of a new complement of ganglioside, and very low concentr