Polysialic acid: biosynthesis, novel functions and applications

Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Karen J ColleyChihiro Sato

Abstract

As an anti-adhesive, a reservoir for key biological molecules, and a modulator of signaling, polysialic acid (polySia) is critical for nervous system development and maintenance, promotes cancer metastasis, tissue regeneration and repair, and is implicated in psychiatric diseases. In this review, we focus on the biosynthesis and functions of mammalian polySia, and the use of polySia in therapeutic applications. PolySia modifies a small subset of mammalian glycoproteins, with the neural cell adhesion molecule, NCAM, serving as its major carrier. Studies show that mammalian polysialyltransferases employ a unique recognition mechanism to limit the addition of polySia to a select group of proteins. PolySia has long been considered an anti-adhesive molecule, and its impact on cell adhesion and signaling attributed directly to this property. However, recent studies have shown that polySia specifically binds neurotrophins, growth factors, and neurotransmitters and that this binding depends on chain length. This work highlights the importance of considering polySia quality and quantity, and not simply its presence or absence, as its various roles are explored. The capsular polySia of neuroinvasive bacteria allows these organisms to eva...Continue Reading

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Related Concepts

Polysialic acid
Sialic Acids
Ectosialyltransferase
Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules
Biosynthetic Pathways
Mental Disorders
Cell Adhesion
Cell Adhesion Molecules
Glycol
Glycoproteins

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