URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/gene/glb1/

GLB1 gene

galactosidase beta 1

Normal Function

The GLB1 gene provides instructions for producing an enzyme called beta-galactosidase (β-galactosidase). This enzyme is located in lysosomes, which are compartments within cells that break down and recycle different types of molecules. Within lysosomes, β-galactosidase helps break down certain molecules, including substances called GM1 ganglioside and keratan sulfate. GM1 ganglioside is important for normal functioning of nerve cells in the brain, and keratan sulfate is particularly abundant in cartilage and the clear covering of the eye (cornea). Keratan sulfate belongs to a group of large sugar molecules called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) or mucopolysaccharides.

The GLB1 gene also provides instructions for making the elastin-binding protein. On the cell surface, elastin-binding protein interacts with proteins called cathepsin A and neuraminidase 1 to form the elastin receptor complex. This receptor complex plays a role in the formation of elastic fibers, which are a component of the connective tissue that forms the body's supportive framework.

Health Conditions Related to Genetic Changes

GM1 gangliosidosis

More than 80 mutations in the GLB1 gene have been found to cause GM1 gangliosidosis. Most mutations change single DNA building blocks (nucleotides) in the GLB1 gene. These mutations often affect the production of both β-galactosidase and elastin-binding protein.

GLB1 gene mutations that cause GM1 gangliosidosis reduce or eliminate the activity of β-galactosidase. Without enough functional β-galactosidase, GM1 ganglioside and keratan sulfate cannot be broken down. As a result, these substances accumulate to toxic levels in many tissues and organs. In the brain, progressive damage caused by the buildup of GM1 ganglioside leads to the destruction of nerve cells, which causes many of the signs and symptoms of GM1 gangliosidosis.

Although the role elastin-binding protein plays in the development of GM1 gangliosidosis is unclear, the alteration of this protein may contribute to the weakened heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) found in some people with GM1 gangliosidosis.

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Mucopolysaccharidosis type IV

More than 10 mutations in the GLB1 gene have been found to cause mucopolysaccharidosis type IV (MPS IV). Most of these mutations change single nucleotides in the gene. All of the mutations that cause MPS IV disrupt the breakdown of keratan sulfate by β-galactosidase. The degradation of GM1 ganglioside is not affected by these mutations.

The lack of β-galactosidase activity leads to the accumulation of keratan sulfate within lysosomes. Because keratan sulfate is predominantly found in cartilage and the cornea, the buildup of this substance causes skeletal abnormalities and cloudy corneas. Researchers believe that a buildup of GAGs may also cause the features of MPS IV by interfering with the functions of other proteins inside lysosomes and disrupting the movement of molecules inside the cell.

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Other Names for This Gene

  • acid beta-galactosidase
  • beta-galactosidase
  • beta-galactosidase isoform a preproprotein
  • beta-galactosidase isoform b
  • beta-galactosidase isoform c preproprotein
  • EBP
  • elastin receptor 1, 67kDa
  • ELNR1
  • galactosidase, beta 1
  • lactase

Additional Information & Resources

Tests Listed in the Genetic Testing Registry

Scientific Articles on PubMed

Catalog of Genes and Diseases from OMIM

Gene and Variant Databases


  • Brunetti-Pierri N, Scaglia F. GM1 gangliosidosis: review of clinical, molecular, and therapeutic aspects. Mol Genet Metab. 2008 Aug;94(4):391-396. doi: 10.1016/j.ymgme.2008.04.012. Epub 2008 Jun 3. Citation on PubMed
  • Duca L, Blanchevoye C, Cantarelli B, Ghoneim C, Dedieu S, Delacoux F, Hornebeck W, Hinek A, Martiny L, Debelle L. The elastin receptor complex transduces signals through the catalytic activity of its Neu-1 subunit. J Biol Chem. 2007 Apr 27;282(17):12484-91. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M609505200. Epub 2007 Feb 27. Citation on PubMed
  • Hofer D, Paul K, Fantur K, Beck M, Burger F, Caillaud C, Fumic K, Ledvinova J, Lugowska A, Michelakakis H, Radeva B, Ramaswami U, Plecko B, Paschke E. GM1 gangliosidosis and Morquio B disease: expression analysis of missense mutations affecting the catalytic site of acid beta-galactosidase. Hum Mutat. 2009 Aug;30(8):1214-21. doi: 10.1002/humu.21031. Citation on PubMed
  • Hofer D, Paul K, Fantur K, Beck M, Roubergue A, Vellodi A, Poorthuis BJ, Michelakakis H, Plecko B, Paschke E. Phenotype determining alleles in GM1 gangliosidosis patients bearing novel GLB1 mutations. Clin Genet. 2010 Sep;78(3):236-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2010.01379.x. Epub 2010 Feb 11. Citation on PubMed
  • Santamaria R, Chabas A, Callahan JW, Grinberg D, Vilageliu L. Expression and characterization of 14 GLB1 mutant alleles found in GM1-gangliosidosis and Morquio B patients. J Lipid Res. 2007 Oct;48(10):2275-82. doi: 10.1194/jlr.M700308-JLR200. Epub 2007 Jul 30. Citation on PubMed
  • Santamaria R, Chabas A, Coll MJ, Miranda CS, Vilageliu L, Grinberg D. Twenty-one novel mutations in the GLB1 gene identified in a large group of GM1-gangliosidosis and Morquio B patients: possible common origin for the prevalent p.R59H mutation among gypsies. Hum Mutat. 2006 Oct;27(10):1060. doi: 10.1002/humu.9451. Citation on PubMed

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.