loading page

Sialic Acid in the Regulation of Blood Cell Production, Differentiation, and Turnover
  • Joseph Lau,
  • Eric Edward Irons,
  • Sajina GC
Joseph Lau
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Eric Edward Irons
UH Cleveland Medical Center
Author Profile
Sajina GC
Columbia University Department of Dermatology
Author Profile


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 affect directly 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 hematopoietic cells. We conclude that sialylation is a critical post-translational modification utilized in hematopoiesis 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.