Exploration of the Sialic Acid World.
Schauer Roland,Kamerling Johannis P
Advances in carbohydrate chemistry and biochemistry
Sialic acids are cytoprotectors, mainly localized on the surface of cell membranes with multiple and outstanding cell biological functions. The history of their structural analysis, occurrence, and functions is fascinating and described in this review. Reports from different researchers on apparently similar substances from a variety of biological materials led to the identification of a 9-carbon monosaccharide, which in 1957 was designated "sialic acid." The most frequently occurring member of the sialic acid family is N-acetylneuraminic acid, followed by N-glycolylneuraminic acid and O-acetylated derivatives, and up to now over about 80 neuraminic acid derivatives have been described. They appeared first in the animal kingdom, ranging from echinoderms up to higher animals, in many microorganisms, and are also expressed in insects, but are absent in higher plants. Sialic acids are masks and ligands and play as such dual roles in biology. Their involvement in immunology and tumor biology, as well as in hereditary diseases, cannot be underestimated. N-Glycolylneuraminic acid is very special, as this sugar cannot be expressed by humans, but is a xenoantigen with pathogenetic potential. Sialidases (neuraminidases), which liberate sialic acids from cellular compounds, had been known from very early on from studies with influenza viruses. Sialyltransferases, which are responsible for the sialylation of glycans and elongation of polysialic acids, are studied because of their significance in development and, for instance, in cancer. As more information about the functions in health and disease is acquired, the use of sialic acids in the treatment of diseases is also envisaged.
Sialic acid glycoengineering using N-acetylmannosamine and sialic acid analogs.
Moons Sam J,Adema Gosse J,Derks Max Tgm,Boltje Thomas J,Büll Christian
Sialic acids cap the glycans of cell surface glycoproteins and glycolipids. They are involved in a multitude of biological processes and aberrant sialic acid expression is associated with several pathologies. Sialic acids modulate the characteristics and functions of glycoproteins and regulate cell-cell as well as cell-extracellular matrix interactions. Pathogens such as influenza virus use sialic acids to infect host cells and cancer cells exploit sialic acids to escape from the host's immune system. The introduction of unnatural sialic acids with different functionalities into surface glycans enables the study of the broad biological functions of these sugars and presents a therapeutic option to intervene with pathological processes involving sialic acids. Multiple chemically modified sialic acid analogs can be directly utilized by cells for sialoglycan synthesis. Alternatively, analogs of the natural sialic acid precursor sugar N-Acetylmannosamine (ManNAc) can be introduced into the sialic acid biosynthesis pathway resulting in the intracellular conversion into the corresponding sialic acid analog. Both, ManNAc and sialic acid analogs, have been employed successfully for a large variety of glycoengineering applications such as glycan imaging, targeting toxins to tumor cells, inhibiting pathogen binding, or altering immune cell activity. However, there are significant differences between ManNAc and sialic acid analogs with respect to their chemical modification potential and cellular metabolism that should be considered in sialic acid glycoengineering experiments.