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Essentials of Glycobiology. 2nd edition. Cold Spring Harbor (NY): Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press; 2009. Chapter 10.


Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) are a type of glycolipid. They are found in the cell membranes of organisms from bacteria to man, and are the major glycans of the vertebrate brain, where more than 80% of glycoconjugates are in the form of glycolipids. The emphasis of this chapter is on vertebrate glycosphingolipids. Information on glycolipids of fungi, plants, and invertebrates is covered elsewhere in this volume; see Chapters 19 and 21–24. Glycosylphosphatidylinositols (GPIs), a distinct family of glycolipids that covalently attach to proteins and serve as membrane anchors, are discussed separately in Chapter 11. The lipopolysaccharide of Gram-negative bacteria, sometimes called a saccharolipid, is discussed in Chapter 20. This chapter describes characteristic features of glycosphingolipids, pathways for their biosynthesis, and insights into their biological roles in membrane structure, host–pathogen interactions, cell–cell recognition, and modulation of membrane protein function. Some mention is also made of glycoglycerolipids.

Copyright © 2009, The Consortium of Glycobiology Editors, La Jolla, California.

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