Sulfation confers negative charge on glycolipids and the attached sulfate group presents a part of determinants for the molecular interactions. Mammalian sulfoglycolipids are comprised of two major members, sulfatide (SO3-3Gal-ceramide) and seminolipid (SO3-3Gal-alkylacylglycerol). Sulfatide is abundant in the myelin sheath and seminolipid is unique to the spermatogenic cells. The carbohydrate moiety of sulfatide and seminolipid is biosynthesized via sequential reactions catalyzed by common enzymes: ceramide galactosyltransferase (CGT) and cerebroside sulfotransferase (CST). To elucidate the biological function of sulfoglycolipids, we have purified CST, cloned the CST gene, and generated CST-knockout mice. CST-null mice completely lack sulfoglycolipids all over the body. CST-null mice manifest some neurological disorders due to myelin dysfunction, an aberrant enhancement of oligodendrocyte terminal differentiation, and an arrest of spermatogenesis. CST-deficiency ameliorates L-selectin-dependent monocyte infiltration in the renal interstitial inflammation, indicating that sulfatide is an endogenous ligand of L-selectin. Studies on the molecular mechanisms underlying the biological events for which sulfoglycolipids are essential are ongoing.
Signal transmission through synapses connecting two neurons is mediated by release of neurotransmitter from the presynaptic axon terminals and activation of its receptor at the postsynaptic neurons. γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), non-protein amino acid formed by decarboxylation of glutamic acid, is a principal neurotransmitter at inhibitory synapses of vertebrate and invertebrate nervous system. On one hand glutamic acid serves as a principal excitatory neurotransmitter. This article reviews GABA researches on; (1) synaptic inhibition by membrane hyperpolarization, (2) exclusive localization in inhibitory neurons, (3) release from inhibitory neurons, (4) excitatory action at developmental stage, (5) phenotype of GABA-deficient mouse produced by gene-targeting, (6) developmental adjustment of neural network and (7) neurological/psychiatric disorder. In the end, GABA functions in simple nervous system and plants, and non-amino acid neurotransmitters were supplemented.
The Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP accident contaminated the soil of densely-populated regions in Fukushima Prefecture with radioactive cesium, which poses significant risks of internal and external exposure to the residents. If we apply the knowledge of post-Chernobyl accident studies, internal exposures in excess of a few mSv/y would be expected to be frequent in Fukushima. Extensive whole-body-counter surveys (n = 32,811) carried out at the Hirata Central Hospital between October, 2011 and November, 2012, however show that the internal exposure levels of residents are much lower than estimated. In particular, the first sampling-bias-free assessment of the internal exposure of children in the town of Miharu, Fukushima, shows that the 137Cs body burdens of all children (n = 1,383, ages 6–15, covering 95% of children enrolled in town-operated schools) were below the detection limit of 300 Bq/body in the fall of 2012. These results are not conclusive for the prefecture as a whole, but are consistent with results obtained from other municipalities in the prefecture, and with prefectural data.