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Sialic acid in the regulation of blood cell production, differentiation and turnover.

Immunology 2024 March 20
Sialic acid is a unique sugar moiety that resides in the distal and most accessible position of the glycans on mammalian cell surface and extracellular glycoproteins and glycolipids. The potential for sialic acid to obscure underlying structures has long been postulated, but the means by which such structural changes directly affect biological processes continues to be elucidated. Here, we appraise the growing body of literature detailing the importance of sialic acid for the generation, differentiation, function and death of haematopoietic cells. We conclude that sialylation is a critical post-translational modification utilized in haematopoiesis to meet the dynamic needs of the organism by enforcing rapid changes in availability of lineage-specific cell types. Though long thought to be generated only cell-autonomously within the intracellular ER-Golgi secretory apparatus, emerging data also demonstrate previously unexpected diversity in the mechanisms of sialylation. Emphasis is afforded to the mechanism of extrinsic sialylation, whereby extracellular enzymes remodel cell surface and extracellular glycans, supported by charged sugar donor molecules from activated platelets.

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