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J Clin Invest. 1972 Sep;51(9):2339-45.

The metabolism of Tay-Sachs ganglioside: catabolic studies with lysosomal enzymes from normal and Tay-Sachs brain tissue.


The catabolism of Tay-Sachs ganglioside, N-acetylgalactosaminyl- (N-acetylneuraminosyl) -galactosylglucosylceramide, has been studied in lysosomal preparations from normal human brain and brain obtained at biopsy from Tay-Sachs patients. Utilizing Tay-Sachs ganglioside labeled with (14)C in the N-acetylgalactosaminyl portion or (3)H in the N-acetylneuraminosyl portion, the catabolism of Tay-Sachs ganglioside may be initiated by either the removal of the molecule of N-acetylgalactosamine or N-acetylneuraminic acid. The activity of the N-acetylgalactosamine-cleaving enzyme (hexosaminidase) is drastically diminished in such preparations from Tay-Sachs brain whereas the activity of the N-acetylneuraminic acid-cleaving enzyme (neuraminidase) is at a normal level. Total hexosaminidase activity as measured with an artificial fluorogenic substrate is increased in tissues obtained from patients with the B variant form of Tay-Sachs disease and it is virtually absent in the O-variant patients. The addition of purified neuraminidase and various purified hexosaminidases exerted only a minimal synergistic effect on the hydrolysis of Tay-Sachs ganglioside in the lysosomal preparations from the control or patient with the O variant of Tay-Sachs disease.

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