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It is well over a century that glycosphingolipids are matter of interest in different fields of research. The hydrophilic oligosaccharide and the lipid moiety, the ceramide, both or separately have been considered in different moments as the crucial portion of the molecule, responsible for the role played by the glycosphingolipids associated to the plasma-membranes or to any other subcellular fraction. Glycosphingolipids are a family of compounds characterized by thousands of structures differing in both the oligosaccharide and the ceramide moieties, but among them, the nervous system monosialylated glycosphingolipid GM1, belonging to the group of gangliosides, has gained particular attention by a multitude of Scientists. In recent years, a series of studies have been conducted on the functional roles played by the hydrophilic part of GM1, its oligosaccharide, that we have named "OligoGM1". These studies allowed to shed new light on the mechanisms underlying the properties of GM1 defining the role of the OligoGM1 in determining precise interactions with membrane proteins instrumental for the neuronal functions, leaving to the ceramide the role of correctly positioning the GM1 in the membrane crucial for the oligosaccharide-protein interactions. In this review we aim to report the recent studies on the cascade of events modulated by OligoGM1, as the bioactive portion of GM1, to support neuronal differentiation and trophism together with preclinical studies on its potential to modify the progression of Parkinson's disease.


Elena Chiricozzi, Erika Di Biase, Giulia Lunghi, Maria Fazzari, Nicoletta Loberto, Massimo Aureli, Laura Mauri, Sandro Sonnino. Turning the spotlight on the oligosaccharide chain of GM1 ganglioside. Glycoconjugate journal. 2021 Feb;38(1):101-117

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PMID: 33620588

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