The evolution of galactose alpha2,3-sialyltransferase: Ciona intestinalis ST3GAL I/II and Takifugu rubripes ST3GAL II sialylate Galbeta1,3GalNAc structures on glycoproteins but not glycolipids.
Gangliosides evolved relatively recently in the history of life, thus their contribution to fundamental cellular processes must be ancillary to or superimposed on preexisting mechanisms. Brain ganglioside patterns vary along taxonomic lines in a fairly conservative fashion, indicating that general ecophysiological factors have probably provided the major selective constraints. During brain development in birds and mammals, gangliosides pass through a transient stage of pattern complexity that may reflect their reptilian ancestry. While this ganglioside heterogeneity could provide positional information within the developing tissue, it might merely reflect a necessary but incidental transition to the handful of major gangliosides essential to mature brain function.