Roles of polysialic acid-neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM) in synaptic plasticity

Eduardo Gascon, Laszlo Vutskits, Jozsef Zoltan Kiss

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

1 Citation (Scopus)


Isoforms of the neuronal cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) carrying the linear homopolymer of alpha 2,8-linked sialic acid (polysialic acid, PSA) have emerged as particularly attractive candidates for promoting plasticity in the nervous system. The large negatively charged PSA chain of NCAM is considered as a spacer that reduces adhesion forces between cells allowing dynamic changes in membrane contacts. However, accumulating evidence also suggest that PSA-NCAM mediated interactions lead to activation of intracellular signaling cascades that are fundamental to the biological functions of the molecule. An important role of PSA-NCAM appears to be during development, when its expression level is high and where it contributes to regulate transformations of cell shape, cell growth or cell migration. However, PSA-NCAM does persist in adult brain structures that display a high degree of plasticity as the hippocampus where it is involved in activity-induced synaptic plasticity. In this review, we will discuss the recent findings on the structure, synthesis and signaling activity of PSA-NCAM essential to understand its role in synaptic plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-635
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Organic Chemistry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2007



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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry

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