Where catabolism meets signalling: neuraminidase 1 as a modulator of cell receptors

Glycoconj J. 2011 Oct;28(7):441-52. doi: 10.1007/s10719-011-9350-5. Epub 2011 Sep 20.


Terminal sialic acid residues are found in abundance in glycan chains of glycoproteins and glycolipids on the surface of all live cells forming an outer layer of the cell originally known as glycocalyx. Their presence affects the molecular properties and structure of glycoconjugates, modifying their function and interactions with other molecules. Consequently, the sialylation state of glycoproteins and glycolipids has been recognized as a critical factor modulating molecular recognitions inside the cell, between the cells, between the cells and the extracellular matrix, and between the cells and certain exogenous pathogens. Sialyltransferases that attach sialic acid residues to the glycan chains in the process of their initial synthesis were thought to be mainly responsible for the creation and maintenance of a temporal and spatial diversity of sialylated moieties. However, the growing evidence also suggests that in mammalian cells, at least equally important roles belong to sialidases/neuraminidases, which are located on the cell surface and in intracellular compartments, and may either initiate the catabolism of sialoglycoconjugates or just cleave their sialic acid residues, and thereby contribute to temporal changes in their structure and functions. The current review summarizes emerging data demonstrating that neuraminidase 1 (NEU1), well known for its lysosomal catabolic function, can be also targeted to the cell surface and assume the previously unrecognized role as a structural and functional modulator of cellular receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / enzymology*
  • Glycocalyx / metabolism
  • Glycoconjugates / metabolism
  • Glycolipids / metabolism
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity*
  • Lysosomes / enzymology
  • Mammals
  • Mice
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / physiology
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / metabolism*
  • Neuraminidase / metabolism*
  • Phagocytosis / immunology
  • Sialyltransferases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Glycoconjugates
  • Glycolipids
  • Glycoproteins
  • Sialyltransferases
  • NEU1 protein, human
  • Neu1 protein, mouse
  • Neuraminidase
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid