Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) are ubiquitous components of eukaryotic cell surfaces and contribute to the glycocalyx, along with other cell surface glycoconjugates. They play a role in recognition events and are exploited as receptors by a number of infectious disease agents. Their expression changes with cell transformation and if they are incompletely catabolised pathology results, leading to the GSL lysosomal storage diseases. However, the role(s) played by the majority of GSL species remain obscure. One approach for probing their functions is to study the effects of GSL depletion using specific inhibitors of GSL biosynthesis. Two structurally distinct classes of GSL biosynthesis inhibitors have been characterised to date, ceramide analogues and N-alkylated imino sugars. Both types of compound inhibit the first step in GSL biosynthesis, namely the glucosyltransferase catalysed synthesis of glucosylceramide. This results in the failure to synthesise all glucosylceramide derived GSL species. GSL depletion using these inhibitors is well tolerated in vitro and in vivo and they offer a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of the glycosphingolipid storage diseases, and are invaluable reagents for studying GSL functions. © 1995, FCCA(Forum: Carbohydrates Coming of Age). All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends in Glycoscience and Glycotechnology

Publication Date





495 - 511