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Glycosylation of proteins and lipids occurs in vertebrates, usually terminating with sialylation, which regulates the physicochemical and biological properties of these glycoconjugates. Although less commonly known, sialic acid residues also undergo various modifications, such as acetylation, methylation, and sulfation. However, except for acetylation, the enzymes or functions of the other modification processes are unknown. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate the ubiquitous occurrence of sulfated sialic acids and two genes encoding the sialate: O-sulfotransferases 1 and 2 in vertebrates. These two enzymes showed about 50% amino acid sequence identity, and appeared to be complementary to each other in acceptor substrate preferences. Gene targeting experiments showed that the deficiency of these genes was lethal for medaka fish during young fry development and accompanied by different phenotypes. Thus, the sulfation of sialic acids is essential for the vertebrate development. © 2022. The Author(s).


Nursah Ertunc, Thanyaluck Phitak, Di Wu, Hiroshi Fujita, Masaya Hane, Chihiro Sato, Ken Kitajima. Sulfation of sialic acid is ubiquitous and essential for vertebrate development. Scientific reports. 2022 Jul 21;12(1):12496

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PMID: 35864127

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