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Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2008 May;72(5):1155-67. Epub 2008 May 7.

Characterization of mouse sialyltransferase genes: their evolution and diversity.

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  • 1Glyco-Chain Functions Laboratory, RIKEN-FRS, Wako-shi, Saitama 351-0198, Japan.


Sialic acids are negatively charged acidic sugars, and sialylglycoconjugates often play important roles in various biological phenomena. Sialyltransferases are involved in the synthesis of sialylglycoconjugates, and 20 members of the mammalian sialyltransferase family have been identified to date. These sialyltransferases are grouped into four families according to the carbohydrate linkages they synthesize: beta-galactoside alpha2,3-sialyltransferases (ST3Gal I-VI), beta-galactoside alpha2,6-sialyltransferases (ST6Gal I and II), GalNAc alpha2,6-sialyltransferases (ST6GalNAc I-VI), and alpha2,8-sialyltransferases (ST8Sia I-VI). Analysis of the amino acid sequence similarities, substrate specificities, and gene structures of mouse sialyltransferases has revealed that they can be further divided into seven subfamilies. The genomic structural resemblance of members of the same subfamily suggests that they arose from a common ancestral gene through gene duplication events. These multiple sialyltransferase genes are needed for fine control of the expression of sialylglycoconjugates, resulting in a variety of developmental stage- and tissue-specific glycosylation patterns.

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