Ceramide synthase 6 modulates TRAIL sensitivity and nuclear translocation of active caspase-3 in colon cancer cells.
ABSTRACT: We have previously shown that the death receptor ligand TRAIL (tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand) induces an increase of intracellular C(16)-ceramide in sensitive SW480 but not in resistant SW620 cells. Resistance in SW620 cells was overcome by exogenous ceramide, leading us to propose that defective ceramide signaling contributes to TRAIL resistance. In this study we found that the increase in C(16)-ceramide in SW480 cells was inhibited by fumonisin B1, an inhibitor of ceramide synthases (CerS). Protein analysis revealed that TRAIL-resistant SW620 cells expressed lower levels of ceramide synthase 6 (CerS6, also known as longevity assurance homologue 6), which prompted us to investigate the effect of CerS6 modulation on TRAIL phenotype. RNAi against CerS6 resulted in a specific and significant decrease of the C(16)-ceramide species, which was sufficient to inhibit TRAIL-induced apoptosis. In cells with decreased levels of CerS6, caspase-3 was activated but failed to translocate into the nucleus. CerS6 localized primarily to the perinuclear region, suggesting this enzyme may be important in regulation of nuclear permeability. Moderate elevation in CerS6 expression was sufficient to reverse TRAIL resistance in SW620 cells. These results suggest that modulation of CerS6 expression may constitute a new therapeutic strategy to alter apoptotic susceptibility.
Project description:Ceramide synthase 6 (CerS6) is an enzyme that preferentially generates pro-apoptotic C16-ceramide in the sphingolipid metabolic pathway. Reduced expression of CerS6 has been associated with apoptosis resistance and recent studies point to a role for CerS6 in epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). Because cells that undergo EMT are also more resistant to apoptosis, we hypothesized that reduced expression of CerS6 could induce changes that are associated with EMT. We found that shRNA-mediated knockdown of CerS6 increases expression of the EMT transcription factor SNAI2 but not SNAI1 or TWIST. Treatment with C6-ceramide nanoliposomes (CNL) resulted in a preferential increase in C16-ceramide and suppressed SNAI2 transcriptional activation and protein expression. The increase in C16-ceramide following CNL treatment was dependent on CerS activity and occurred even when CerS6 shRNA was expressed. shRNA against CerS5, which like CerS6 preferentially generates C16-ceramide, also decreased transcriptional activation of SNAI2, suggesting a role for C16-ceramide rather than a specific enzyme in the regulation of this transcription factor. While loss of CerS6 has been associated with apoptosis resistance, we found that cells lacking this protein are more susceptible to the effects CNL. In summary, our study identifies SNAI2 as a novel target whose expression can be influenced by C16-ceramide levels. The potential of CNL to suppress SNAI2 expression has important clinical implications, since elevated expression of this transcription factor has been associated with an aggressive phenotype or poor outcomes in several types of solid tumors.
Project description:The role of ceramide neo-genesis in cellular stress response signaling is gaining increasing attention with recent progress in elucidating the novel roles and biochemical properties of the ceramide synthase (CerS) enzymes. Selective tissue and subcellular distribution of the six mammalian CerS isoforms, combined with distinct fatty acyl chain length substrate preferences, implicate differential functions of specific ceramide species in cellular signaling. We report here that ionizing radiation (IR) induces de novo synthesis of ceramide to influence HeLa cell apoptosis by specifically activating CerS isoforms 2, 5, and 6 that generate opposing anti- and pro-apoptotic ceramides in mitochondrial membranes. Overexpression of CerS2 resulted in partial protection from IR-induced apoptosis whereas overexpression of CerS5 increased apoptosis in HeLa cells. Knockdown studies determined that CerS2 is responsible for all observable IR-induced C(24:0) CerS activity, and while CerS5 and CerS6 each confer approximately 50% of the C(16:0) CerS baseline synthetic activity, both are required for IR-induced activity. Additionally, co-immunoprecipitation studies suggest that CerS2, 5, and 6 might exist as heterocomplexes in HeLa cells, providing further insight into the regulation of CerS proteins. These data add to the growing body of evidence demonstrating interplay among the CerS proteins in a stress stimulus-, cell type- and subcellular compartment-specific manner.
Project description:The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is not only important for protein synthesis and folding but is also crucial for lipid synthesis and metabolism. In the current study, we demonstrate an important role of ceramide synthases (CerS) in ER stress and NAFLD progression. Ceramide is important in sphingolipid metabolism, and its acyl chain length is determined by a family of six CerS in mammals. CerS2 generates C22-C24 ceramides, and CerS5 or CerS6 produces C16 ceramide. To gain insight into the role of CerS in NAFLD, we used a high-fat diet (HFD)-induced NAFLD mouse model. Decreased levels of CerS2 and increased levels of CerS6 were observed in the steatotic livers of mice fed a HFD. In vitro experiments with Hep3B cells indicated the protective role of CerS2 and the detrimental role of CerS6 in the ER stress response induced by palmitate treatment. In particular, CerS6 overexpression increased sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1 (SREBP-1) cleavage with decreased levels of INSIG-1, leading to increased lipogenesis. Blocking ER stress abrogated the detrimental effects of CerS6 on palmitate-induced SREBP-1 cleavage. In accordance with the protective role of CerS2 in the palmitate-induced ER stress response, CerS2 knockdown enhanced ER stress and SREBP-1 cleavage, and CerS2 heterozygote livers exhibited a stronger ER stress response and higher triglyceride levels following HFD. Finally, treatment with a low dose of bortezomib increased hepatic CerS2 expression and protected the development of NAFLD following HFD. These results indicate that CerS and its derivatives impact hepatic ER stress and lipogenesis differently and might be therapeutic targets for NAFLD.
Project description:Ceramide synthases (CERS) produce ceramides which are key intermediators in the biosynthesis of complex sphingolipids and play an important role in cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis and senescence. CERS6 is an isoform of ceramide synthases known to generate ceramides with C16 acyl chain (C16-Cer). CERS6 and C16-Cer levels were significantly higher in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells in comparison to peripheral blood mononuclear cells and T lymphocytes derived from healthy human volunteers. We investigated the role of CERS6 in chemo-resistance in T-ALL cell lines. Stable knockdown of CERS6 in CCRF-CEM and MOLT-4 cells resulted in increased sensitivity to ABT-737, a pan-BCL-2 inhibitor, while CCRF-CEM cells with exogenous CERS6 expression showed resistance to ABT-737 relative to the vector control. The cytotoxic activity of ABT-737 in CERS6 knockdown cells was significantly reduced by the addition of a caspase-8 inhibitor Z-IETD, suggesting that CERS6 alters the cytotoxicity via extrinsic pathway of apoptosis. By co-immunoprecipitation of CERS6 in CCRF-CEM cells, we identified CD95/Fas, a mediator of extrinsic apoptotic pathway, as a novel CERS6 binding partner. In Fas pull-down samples, FADD (Fas-associated protein with death domain) was detected at higher levels in cells with CERS6 knockdown compared with control cells when treated with ABT-737, and this was reversed by the overexpression of CERS6, demonstrating that CERS6 interferes with Fas-FADD DISC assembly. CERS6 may serve as a biomarker in determining the effectiveness of anticancer agents acting via the extrinsic pathway in T-ALL.
Project description:Sphingolipids regulate critical cellular processes including inflammation. Ceramide, which serves a central role in sphingolipid metabolism, is generated by six ceramide synthases (CerS) that differ in substrate specificity. CerS6 preferentially generates C16-ceramide and its mRNA is highly expressed in immune tissues. In this study we analyzed how deficiency of CerS6 impacts on the development of colitis using an adoptive transfer model. Adoptive transfer of CerS6-deficient splenocytes, which have significantly decreased levels of C16-ceramide, showed that CerS6-deficiency protected against the development of colitis. However, adoptively transferred cells isolated from the lamina propria of the large intestine from wild type or CerS6-deficient groups showed no differences in the percentages of immune-suppressive regulatory T cells, pro-inflammatory Th17 cells, or their ability to express IL-17. In vitro polarization of wild type or CerS6-deficient splenocytes also revealed no defects in the development of T cell subsets. Our data suggest that protection from colitis following adoptive transfer of CerS6-deficient splenocytes maybe related to their ability to migrate and proliferate in vivo rather than subset development or cytokine expression.
Project description:Mammalian ceramide synthases 1 to 6 (CerS1-6) generate Cer in an acyl-CoA-dependent manner, and expression of individual CerS has been shown to enhance the synthesis of ceramides with particular acyl chain lengths. However, the contribution of each CerS to steady-state levels of specific Cer species has not been evaluated. We investigated the knockdown of individual CerS in the MCF-7 human breast adenocarcinoma cell line by using small-interfering RNA (siRNA). We found that siRNA-induced downregulation of each CerS resulted in counter-regulation of nontargeted CerS. Additionally, each CerS knockdown produced unique effects on the levels of multiple sphingolipid species. For example, downregulation of CerS2 decreased very long-chain Cer but increased levels of CerS4, CerS5, and CerS6 expression and upregulated long-chain and medium-long-chain sphingolipids. Conversely, CerS6 knockdown decreased C16:0-Cer but increased CerS5 expression and caused non-C16:0 sphingolipids to be upregulated. Knockdown of individual CerS failed to decrease total sphingolipids or upregulate sphingoid bases. Treatment with siRNAs targeting combined CerS, CerS2, CerS5, and CerS6, did not change overall Cer or sphingomyelin mass but caused upregulation of dihydroceramide and hexosyl-ceramide and promoted endoplasmic reticulum stress. These data suggest that sphingolipid metabolism is robustly regulated by both redundancy in CerS-mediated Cer synthesis and counter-regulation of CerS expression.
Project description:Emerging results suggest that ceramides with different fatty acid chain lengths might play distinct functions in the regulation of tumor growth and therapy. Here we report that de novo-generated C(18)- and C(16)-ceramides by ceramide synthases 1 and 6 (CerS1 and CerS6) play opposing proapoptotic and prosurvival roles, respectively, in human head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs). Unexpectedly, knockdown of CerS6/C(16)-ceramide using small interfering RNA induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-stress-mediated apoptosis. Reconstitution of C(16)-ceramide generation by induced expression of wild-type CerS6, but not its catalytically inactive mutant, protected cells from cell death induced by knockdown of CerS6. Moreover, using molecular tools coupled with analysis of sphingolipid metabolism showed that generation of C(16)-ceramide, and not dihydro-C(16)-ceramide, by induced expression of CerS6 rescued cells from ER stress and apoptosis. Mechanistically, regulation of ER-stress-induced apoptosis by CerS6/C(16)-ceramide was linked to the activation of a specific arm, ATF6/CHOP, of the unfolded protein response pathway. Notably, while expression of CerS1/C(18)-ceramide inhibited HNSCC xenograft growth, CerS6/C(16)-ceramide significantly protected ER stress, leading to enhanced tumor development and growth in vivo, consistent with their pro- and antiapoptotic roles, respectively. Thus, these data reveal an unexpected and novel prosurvival role of CerS6/C(16)-ceramide involved in the protection against ER-stress-induced apoptosis and induction of HNSCC tumor growth.
Project description:Mechanisms that regulate endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-induced apoptosis in cancer cells remain enigmatic. Recent data suggest that ceramide synthase1-6 (CerS1-6)-generated ceramides, containing different fatty acid chain lengths, might exhibit distinct and opposing functions, such as apoptosis versus survival in a context-dependent manner. Here, we investigated the mechanisms involved in the activation of one of the major ER stress response proteins, ATF-6, and subsequent apoptosis by alterations of CerS6/C(16)-ceramide. Induction of wild type (WT), but not the catalytically inactive mutant CerS6, increased tumor growth in SCID mice, whereas siRNA-mediated knockdown of CerS6 induced ATF-6 activation and apoptosis in multiple human cancer cells. Down-regulation of CerS6/C(16)-ceramide, and not its further metabolism to glucosylceramide or sphingomyelin, activated ATF-6 upon treatment with ER stress inducers tunicamycin or SAHA (suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid). Induction of WT-CerS6 expression, but not its mutant, or ectopic expression of the dominant-negative mutant form of ATF-6 protected cells from apoptosis in response to CerS6 knockdown and tunicamycin or SAHA treatment. Mechanistically, ATF-6 activation was regulated by a concerted two-step process involving the release of Ca(2+) from the ER stores ([Ca(2+)](ER)), which resulted in the fragmentation of Golgi membranes in response to CerS6/C(16)-ceramide alteration. This resulted in the accumulation of pro-ATF-6 in the disrupted ER/Golgi membrane network, where pro-ATF6 is activated. Accordingly, ectopic expression of a Ca(2+) chelator calbindin prevented the Golgi fragmentation, ATF-6 activation, and apoptosis in response to CerS6/C(16)-ceramide down-regulation. Overall, these data suggest a novel mechanism of how CerS6/C(16)-ceramide alteration activates ATF6 and induces ER-stress-mediated apoptosis in squamous cell carcinomas.
Project description:The sphingolipid ceramide has been widely implicated in the regulation of programmed cell death or apoptosis. The accumulation of ceramide has been demonstrated in a wide variety of experimental models of apoptosis and in response to a myriad of stimuli and cellular stresses. However, the detailed mechanisms of its generation and regulatory role during apoptosis are poorly understood. We sought to determine the regulation and roles of ceramide production in a model of ultraviolet light-C (UV-C)-induced programmed cell death. We found that UV-C irradiation induces the accumulation of multiple sphingolipid species including ceramide, dihydroceramide, sphingomyelin, and hexosylceramide. Late ceramide generation was also found to be regulated by Bcl-xL, Bak, and caspases. Surprisingly, inhibition of de novo synthesis using myriocin or fumonisin B1 resulted in decreased overall cellular ceramide levels basally and in response to UV-C, but only fumonisin B1 inhibited cell death, suggesting the presence of a ceramide synthase (CerS)-dependent, sphingosine-derived pool of ceramide in regulating programmed cell death. We found that this pool did not regulate the mitochondrial pathway, but it did partially regulate activation of caspase-7 and, more importantly, was necessary for late plasma membrane permeabilization. Attempting to identify the CerS responsible for this effect, we found that combined knockdown of CerS5 and CerS6 was able to decrease long-chain ceramide accumulation and plasma membrane permeabilization. These data identify a novel role for CerS and the sphingosine salvage pathway in regulating membrane permeability in the execution phase of programmed cell death.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Obesity is associated with increased activity of two lipid signaling systems (endocannabinoids [ECs] and ceramides), with both being implicated in insulin resistance. Cannabinoid-1 receptor (CB1 R) antagonists reverse obesity and insulin resistance, but have psychiatric side effects. Here we analyzed the role of ceramide in CB1 R-mediated insulin resistance in C57Bl6/J mice with high-fat diet-induced obesity (DIO), using JD5037, a peripherally restricted CB1 R inverse agonist. Chronic JD5037 treatment of DIO mice reduced body weight and steatosis and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Peripheral CB1 R blockade also attenuated the diet-induced increase in C14:0, C16:0, C18:0, and C20:0 ceramide species with either C16 or C18 sphingosine-base in the liver. Decreased ceramide levels reflected their reduced de novo synthesis, due to inhibition of the activity of serine-palmitoyl transferase (SPT) and the expression of its SPTLC3 catalytic subunit, as well as reduced ceramide synthase (CerS) activity related to reduced expression of CerS1 and CerS6. JD5037 treatment also increased ceramide degradation due to increased expression of ceramidases. In primary cultured mouse hepatocytes and HepG2 cells, the EC anandamide increased ceramide synthesis in an eIF2?-dependent manner, and inhibited insulin-induced akt phosphorylation by increased serine phosphorylation of IRS1 and increased expression of the serine/threonine phosphatase Phlpp1. These effects were abrogated by JD5037 or the SPT inhibitor myriocin. Chronic treatment of DIO mice with myriocin or JD5037 similarly reversed hepatic insulin resistance, as verified using a euglycemic/hyperinsulinemic clamp. CONCLUSION:ECs induce CB1 R-mediated, endoplasmic reticulum stress-dependent synthesis of specific ceramide subspecies in the liver, which plays a key role in obesity-related hepatic insulin resistance.