The Multi-Tasked Life of GM1 Ganglioside, a True Factotum of Nature

Trends Biochem Sci. 2015 Jul;40(7):407-18. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2015.04.005. Epub 2015 May 26.


GM1 ganglioside occurs widely in vertebrate tissues, where it exhibits many essential functions, both in the plasma membrane and intracellular loci. Its essentiality is revealed in the dire consequences resulting from genetic deletion. This derives from its key roles in several signalosome systems, characteristically located in membrane rafts, where it associates with specific proteins that have glycolipid-binding domains. Thus, GM1 interacts with proteins that modulate mechanisms such as ion transport, neuronal differentiation, G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), immune system reactivities, and neuroprotective signaling. The latter occurs through intimate association with neurotrophin receptors, which has relevance to the etiopathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases and potential therapies. Here, we review the current state of knowledge of these GM1-associated mechanisms.

Keywords: GM1 ganglioside; GPCR modulation; ion transport regulation; lipid rafts; neuritogenesis; neurodegenerative diseases; neurotrophic support.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Membrane
  • G(M1) Ganglioside / physiology*
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Synaptic Transmission


  • Glycoproteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • G(M1) Ganglioside
  • Calcium