2002 年 122 巻 12 号 p. 1133-1143
Glycosphingolipids (GSLs), together with glycopeptides, are typical constituents of various cell membranes in a wide variety of organisms. In particular, it is known that GSLs have numerous physiological functions due to variations in the sugar chain, in spite of the very small quantity of constituents. Those are classified into cerebrosides, sulfatides, ceramide oligohexosides, globosides, and gangliosides based on the constituent sugars. Gangliosides, sialic acid-containing GSLs, are especially enriched in the brain and nervous tissues and are involved in the regulation of many cellular events. Recently, a number of GSLs have been isolated from marine invertebrates such as echinoderms, poriferans, and mollusks. We have also been researching biologically active GSLs from echinoderms to elucidate the structure-function relationships of GSLs and to develop novel medicinal resources. This review summarizes the structures and biological activities of GSLs from sea cucumbers. This study showed that the characteristics of GSLs and structure-activity relationships had neuritogenic activity toward the rat pheochromocytoma cell line PC12. That is, most of the cerebroside constituents of the sea cucumber are same glucocerebrosides as in other animals, except for some constituents, while the ganglioside constituents were unique in that a sialic acid directly binds to the glucose of cerebroside, they are mutually connected in tandem, and some are located in the internal parts of the sugar chain. It also became apparent that sialic acid is indispensable for the neuritogenic activities.