Production of ceramides causes apoptosis during early neural differentiation in vitro.

Herget, T., Esdar, C., Oehrlein, S.A., Heinrich, M., Schütze, S., Maelicke, A. and van Echten-Deckert, G. (2000) Production of ceramides causes apoptosis during early neural differentiation in vitro. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 275 (39). pp. 30344-30354. 10.1074/jbc.M000714200 .

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DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M000714200


To investigate signal transduction pathways leading to apoptosis during the early phase of neurogenesis, we employed PCC7-Mz1 cells, which cease to proliferate and begin to differentiate into a stable pattern of neurons, astroglial cells, and fibroblasts upon incubation with retinoic acid (RA). As part of lineage determination, a sizable fraction of RA-treated cultures die by apoptosis. Applying natural long-chain C(16)-ceramides as well as membrane-permeable C(2)/C(6)-ceramide analogs caused apoptosis, whereas the biologically nonactive C(2)-dihydroceramide did not. Treating PCC7-Mz1 stem cells with a neutral sphingomyelinase or with the ceramidase inhibitor N-oleoylethanolamine elevated the endogenous ceramide levels and concomitantly induced apoptosis. Addition of RA caused an increase in ceramide levels within 3-5 h, which reached a maximum (up to 3.5-fold of control) between days 1 and 3 of differentiation. Differentiated PCC7-Mz1 cells did not respond with ceramide formation and apoptosis to RA treatment. The acidic sphingomyelinase contributed only weakly and the neutral Mg(2+)-dependent and Mg(2+)-independent sphingomyelinases not at all to the RA-mediated production of ceramides. However, ceramide increase was sensitive to the ceramide synthase inhibitor fumonisin B(1), suggesting a crucial role for the de novo synthesis pathway. Enzymatic assays revealed that ceramide synthase activity remained unaltered, whereas serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT), a key enzyme in ceramide synthesis, was activated approximately 2.5-fold by RA treatment. Activation of SPT seemed to be mediated via a post-translational mechanism because levels of the mRNAs coding for the two SPT subunits were unaffected. Expression of marker proteins shows that ceramide regulates apoptosis, rather than differentiation, during early neural differentiation.

Item Type:Article
Departments, units and centres:Department of Pharmaceutical and Biological Chemistry > Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy
ID Code:2697
Journal or Publication Title:Journal of Biological Chemistry
Deposited By:Library Staff
Deposited On:19 Jan 2012 16:48
Last Modified:19 Jan 2012 16:48

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