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Neurochem Res. 2002 Aug;27(7-8):649-63.

Recent development in mammalian sialidase molecular biology.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Brescia, Italy.


This review summarizes the recent research development on mammalian sialidase molecular cloning. Sialic acid-containing compounds are involved in several physiological processes, and sialidases, as glycohydrolytic enzymes that remove sialic acid residues, play a pivotal role as well. Sialidases hydrolyze the nonreducing, terminal sialic acid linkage in various natural substrates, such as glycoproteins, glycolipids, gangliosides, and polysaccharides. Mammalian sialidases are present in several tissues/organs and cells with a typical subcellular distribution: they are the lysosomal, the cytosolic, and the plasma membrane-associated sialidases. Starting in 1993, 12 different mammalian sialidases have been cloned and sequenced. A comparison of their amino acid sequences revealed the presence of highly conserved regions. These conserved regions are shared with viral and microbial sialidases that have been characterized at three-dimensional structural level, allowing us to perform the molecular modeling of the mammalian proteins and suggesting a monophyletic origin of the sialidase enzymes. Overall, the availability of the cDNA species encoding mammalian sialidases is an important step leading toward a comprehensive picture of the relationships between the structure and biological function of these enzymes.

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