INTERNATIONAL UNION OF PURE AND
INTERNATIONAL UNION OF BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
Commission on Biochemical Nomenclature (JCBN)
Nomenclature of Glycolipids (Recommendations
M. Alan Chester
Blood Centre, University Hospital, S-221 85 Lund, Sweden
General Considerations: Glycolipids
are glycosyl derivatives of lipids such as acylglycerols, ceramides
and prenols. They are collectively part of a larger family of substances
known as glycoconjugates. The major types of glycoconjugates are glycoproteins,
glycopeptides, peptidoglycans, proteoglycans, glycolipids and lipopolysaccharides.
The structures of glycolipids are often complex and difficult to reproduce
in the text of articles and certainly cannot be referred to in oral
discussions without a nomenclature that implies specific chemical structural
The 1976 recommendations on lipid nomenclature
contained a section (Lip-3) on glycolipids, with symbols and abbreviations
as well as trivial names for some of the most commonly occurring glycolipids.
Since then, more than 300 new glycolipids have been isolated and characterized,
some having carbohydrate chains with more than twenty monosaccharide
residues and others with structural features such as inositol phosphate.
The nomenclature needs to be convenient and practical, as well as extensible,
to accommodate newly discovered structures. It should also be consistent
with the nomenclature of glycoproteins, glycopeptides and peptidoglycans,
oligosaccharides, and carbohydrates in general.
This document supersedes the glycolipid section
in the 1976 Recommendations on lipid nomenclature.
Wide Web version prepared by G. P. Moss