Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Bioorg Chem. 2005 Jun;33(3):216-28. Epub 2005 Feb 25.

The enzymes of sialic acid biosynthesis.

Author information

  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z1.


The sialic acids are a family of nine carbon alpha-keto acids that play a wide variety of biological roles in nature. In mammals, they are found at the distal ends of cell surface glycoconjugates, and thus are major determinants of cellular recognition and adhesion events. In certain strains of pathogenic bacteria, they are found in capsular polysaccharides that mask the organism from the immune system by mimicking the exterior of a mammalian cell. This review outlines recent developments in the understanding of the two main enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of the sialic acid, N-acetylneuraminic acid. The first, a hydrolyzing UDP-N-acetylglucosamine 2-epimerase, generates N-acetylmannosamine and UDP from UDP-N-acetylglucosamine. The second, sialic acid synthase, generates either N-acetylneuraminic acid (bacteria) or N-acetylneuraminic acid 9-phosphate (mammals) in a condensation reaction with phosphoenolpyruvate. An emphasis is placed on an understanding of the mechanistic and structural features of these enzymes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk