Evidence for nonrandom distribution of GD1a ganglioside in rabbit brain microsomal membranes

P. Palestini, M. Masserini, A. Fiorilli, E. Calappi, G. Tettamanti

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GD1a is the major ganglioside of rabbit brain microsomal membranes and occurs mainly with two molecular species, containing the C18:1 (62.3%) and C20:1 (37.7%) long-chain bases. The membranes were exposed to Vibrio cholerae (VC) sialidase under conditions where the enzyme hydrolyzed only GD1a (~9%), producing GM1 ganglioside, whereas the other gangliosides remained virtually unaffected. The long-chain-base analysis showed that newly-formed GM1 contained ~68% of the C20:1 molecular species. This indicates that VC sialidase did not randomly affect the two molecular species of GD1a but hydrolyzed preferentially the C20:1 one. In similar experiments, GD1a was inserted into the external layer of phosphatidylcholine vesicles and incubated with VC sialidase under conditions producing ~10% hydrolysis. Long-chain-base analysis showed that the proportion of C20:1 species in GM1 was 25.1% using vesicles composed of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine and 42.3% with egg phosphatidylcholine, whereas it was 39.2% in the starting GD1a. Therefore, in artificial membranes, VC sialidase acted preferentially on the C18:1 or C20:1 molecular species, depending on the length and unsaturation of the phospholipid fatty acids. Because VC sialidase is known to affect molecular dispersions more easily than packed aggregations of the gangliosidic substrate, the data suggest that in rabbit brain microsomal membranes the GD1a ganglioside molecular species carrying C20:1 long-chain base are more molecularly dispersed than those containing C18:1 long-chain base.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-753
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1991


  • Brain
  • Ganglioside
  • Long-chain base
  • Microsomal membranes
  • Vibrio cholerae sialidase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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