GM2 ganglioside, although scarce in normal adult brain, is the predominant ganglioside accumulating in several types of lysosomal disorders, most notably Tay-Sachs disease. Pyramidal neurons of cerebral cortex in Tay-Sachs, as well as many other types of neuronal storage disorders, are known to exhibit a phenomenon believed unique to storage disorders: growth of ectopic dendrites. Recent studies have shown that a common metabolic abnormality shared by storage diseases with ectopic dendrite growth is the abnormal accumulation of GM2 ganglioside. The correlation between increased levels of GM2 and the presence of ectopic dendrites has been found in both ganglioside and nonganglioside storage disorders, the latter including sphingomyelin-cholesterol lipidosis, mucopolysaccharidosis, and α-mannosidosis. Quantitative HPTLC analysis has shown that increases in GM2 occur in proportion to the incidence of ectopic dendrite growth, whereas, other gangliosides, including GM1, lack similar increases. Immunocytochemical studies of all nonganglioside storage diseases which exhibit ectopic dendritogenesis have revealed heightened GM2 ganglioside-immunoreactivity in the cortical pyramidal cell population, whereas neurons in normal adult brain exhibit little or no staining for this ganglioside. Further, studies examining disease development have consistently shown that accumulation of GM2 ganglioside precedes growth of ectopic dendrites, indicating that it is not simply occurring secondary to new membrane production. These findings have prompted an examination for a similar relationship between GM2 ganglioside and dendritogenesis in cortical neurons of normal developing brain. Results show that GM2 ganglioside-immunoreactivity is consistently elevated in immature neurons during the period when they are undergoing active dendritic initiation, but this staining diminishes dramatically as the dendritic tress of these cells mature. Collectively, these studies on diseased and normal brain offer compelling evidence that GM2 ganglioside plays a pivotal role in the regulation of dendritogenesis in cortical pyramidal neurons.
- cerebral cortex
- cortical development
- lysosomal storage disease
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience