Author(s): Hildebrandt H, Mhlenhoff M, Weinhold B, GerardySchahn R
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Abstract The unique modification of the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) by polysialic acid (polySia) is tightly associated with nervous system development and plasticity. The prevailing view that this large carbohydrate polymer acts as an anti-adhesive factor seems straightforward at first sight. However, during almost 25 years of polySia research it became increasingly clear that the impact of polySia on cell surface interactions can not be explained by one unifying mechanism. Recent progress in the generation of mouse models, which partially or completely lack polySia due to ablation of one or both of the two polySia synthesizing enzymes, provides novel insights into the function of this unique post-translational modification. The present review is focused on a phenotype comparison between the newly established mouse strains which combine polySia-deficiency with normal NCAM expression and the well-characterized NCAM negative mouse model. Analysis of shared and individual phenotypes allows a clear distinction between NCAM and polySia functions and revealed that polySia plays a vital role as a specific control element of NCAM-mediated interactions.
This article was published in J Neurochem
and referenced in Journal of Glycomics & Lipidomics