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Glycobiology. 2012 Jul;22(7):880-96. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cws057. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Mammalian sialidases: physiological and pathological roles in cellular functions.

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Institute of Molecular Biomembrane and Glycobiology, Tohoku Pharmaceutical University, Sendai, Japan.


Sialic acids are terminal acidic monosaccharides, which influence the chemical and biological features of glycoconjugates. Their removal catalyzed by a sialidase modulates various biological processes through change in conformation and creation or loss of binding sites of functional molecules. Sialidases exist widely in vertebrates and also in a variety of microorganisms. Recent research on mammalian sialidases has provided evidence for great importance of these enzymes in various cellular functions, including lysosomal catabolism, whereas microbial sialidases appear to play roles limited to nutrition and pathogenesis. Four types of mammalian sialidases have been identified and characterized to date, designated as NEU1, NEU2, NEU3 and NEU4. They are encoded by different genes and differ in major subcellular localization and enzymatic properties including substrate specificity, and each has been found to play a unique role depending on its particular properties. This review is an attempt to concisely summarize current knowledge concerning mammalian sialidases, with a special focus on their properties and physiological and pathological roles in cellular functions.

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