ABSTRACT: Lipid rafts and ceramide (Cer)-platforms are membrane domains that play an important role in several biological processes. Cer-platforms are commonly formed in the plasma membrane by the action of sphingomyelinase (SMase) upon hydrolysis of sphingomyelin (SM) within lipid rafts. The interplay among SMase activity, initial membrane properties (i.e., phase behavior and lipid lateral organization) and lipid composition, and the amount of product (Cer) generated, and how it modulates membrane properties were studied using fluorescence methodologies in model membranes. The activity of SMase was evaluated by following the hydrolysis of radioactive SM. It was observed that 1), the enzyme activity and extent of hydrolysis are strongly dependent on membrane physical properties but not on substrate content, and are higher in raft-like mixtures, i.e., mixtures with liquid-disordered/liquid-ordered phase separation; and 2), Cer-induced alterations are also dependent on membrane composition, specifically the cholesterol (Chol) content. In the lowest-Chol range, Cer segregates together with SM into small ( approximately 8.5 nm) Cer/SM-gel domains. With increasing Chol, the ability of Cer to recruit SM and form gel domains strongly decreases. In the high-Chol range, a Chol-enriched/SM-depleted liquid-ordered phase predominates. Together, these data suggest that in biological membranes, Chol in particular and raft domains in general play an important role in modulating SMase activity and regulating membrane physical properties by restraining Cer-induced alterations.
Project description:Lipid raft disruption is an early event during skeletal muscle unloading. Ceramide (Cer) serves as a signaling lipid that can contribute to lipid raft disturbance and muscle atrophy. Using biochemical and fluorescent approaches, the distribution of Cer and related molecules in the rat soleus muscle subjected to 12 h of hindlimb suspension (HS) was studied. HS led to upregulation of TNFα receptor 1 (TNFR1), Cer-producing enzymes, and acid and neutral sphingomyelinase (SMase) in detergent-resistant membranes (lipid rafts), which was accompanied by an increase in Cer and a decrease in sphingomyelin in this membrane fraction. Fluorescent labeling indicated increased Cer in the sarcoplasm as well as the junctional (synaptic) and extrajunctional compartments of the suspended muscles. Also, a loss of membrane asymmetry (a hallmark of membrane disturbance) was induced by HS. Pretreatment with clomipramine, a functional inhibitor of acid SMase, counteracted HS-mediated changes in the Cer/sphingomyelin ratio and acid SMase abundance as well as suppressed Cer accumulation in the intracellular membranes of junctional and extrajunctional regions. However, the elevation of plasma membrane Cer and disturbance of the membrane asymmetry were suppressed only in the junctional compartment. We suggest that acute HS leads to TNFR1 and SMase upregulation in the lipid raft fraction and deposition of Cer throughout the sarcolemma and intracellularly. Clomipramine-mediated downregulation of acid SMase can suppress Cer accumulation in all compartments, excluding the extrajunctional plasma membrane.
Project description:Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6) is an n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) that influences immunological, metabolic, and neurological responses through complex mechanisms. One structural mechanism by which DHA exerts its biological effects is through its ability to modify the physical organization of plasma membrane signaling assemblies known as sphingomyelin/cholesterol (SM/chol)-enriched lipid rafts. Here we studied how DHA acyl chains esterified in the sn-2 position of phosphatidylcholine (PC) regulate the formation of raft and non-raft domains in mixtures with SM and chol on differing size scales. Coarse grained molecular dynamics simulations showed that 1-palmitoyl-2-docosahexaenoylphosphatylcholine (PDPC) enhances segregation into domains more than the monounsaturated control, 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-phosphatidylcholine (POPC). Solid state 2H NMR and neutron scattering experiments provided direct experimental evidence that substituting PDPC for POPC increases the size of raft-like domains on the nanoscale. Confocal imaging of giant unilamellar vesicles with a non-raft fluorescent probe revealed that POPC had no influence on phase separation in the presence of SM/chol whereas PDPC drove strong domain segregation. Finally, monolayer compression studies suggest that PDPC increases lipid-lipid immiscibility in the presence of SM/chol compared to POPC. Collectively, the data across model systems provide compelling support for the emerging model that DHA acyl chains of PC lipids tune the size of lipid rafts, which has potential implications for signaling networks that rely on the compartmentalization of proteins within and outside of rafts.
Project description:Sphingomyelin (SM) and cholesterol (chol)-rich domains in cell membranes, called lipid rafts, are thought to have important biological functions related to membrane signaling and protein trafficking. To visualize the distribution of SM in lipid rafts by means of Raman microscopy, we designed and synthesized an SM analog tagged with a Raman-active diyne moiety (diyne-SM). Diyne-SM showed a strong peak in a Raman silent region that is free of interference from intrinsic vibrational modes of lipids and did not appear to alter the properties of SM-containing monolayers. Therefore, we used Raman microscopy to directly visualize the distribution of diyne-SM in raft-mimicking domains formed in SM/dioleoylphosphatidylcholine/chol ternary monolayers. Raman images visualized a heterogeneous distribution of diyne-SM, which showed marked variation, even within a single ordered domain. Specifically, diyne-SM was enriched in the central area of raft domains compared with the peripheral area. These results seem incompatible with the generally accepted raft model, in which the raft and nonraft phases show a clear biphasic separation. One of the possible reasons is that gradual changes of SM concentration occur between SM-rich and -poor regions to minimize hydrophobic mismatch. We believe that our technique of hyperspectral Raman imaging of a single lipid monolayer opens the door to quantitative analysis of lipid membranes by providing both chemical information and spatial distribution with high (diffraction-limited) spatial resolution.
Project description:Sphingomyelinases (SMases) hydrolyze the membrane constituent sphingomyelin (SM) to phosphocholine and ceramide (Cer). Growing evidence supports that SMase-induced SM-->Cer conversion leads to the formation of lateral Cer-enriched domains which drive structural reorganization in lipid membranes. We previously provided visual evidence in real-time for the formation of Cer-enriched domains in SM monolayers through the action of the neutral Bacillus cereus SMase. In this work, we disclose a succession of discrete morphologic transitions and lateral organization of Cer-enriched domains that underlay the SMase-generated surface topography. We further reveal how these structural parameters couple to the generation of two-dimensional electrostatic fields, based upon the specific orientation of the lipid dipole moments in the Cer-enriched domains. Advanced image processing routines in combination with time-resolved epifluorescence microscopy on Langmuir monolayers revealed: 1), spontaneous nucleation and circular growth of Cer-enriched domains after injection of SMase into the subphase of the SM monolayer; 2), domain-intrinsic discrete transitions from circular to periodically undulating shapes followed by a second transition toward increasingly branched morphologies; 3), lateral superstructure organization into predominantly hexagonal domain lattices; 4), formation of super-superstructures by the hexagonal lattices; and 5), rotationally and laterally coupled domain movement before domain border contact. All patterns proved to be specific for the SMase-driven system since they could not be observed with Cer-enriched domains generated by defined mixtures of SM/Cer in enzyme-free monolayers at the same surface pressure (pi = 10 mN/m). Following the theories of lateral shape transitions, dipolar electrostatic interactions of lipid domains, and direct determinations of the monolayer dipole potential, our data show that SMase induces a domain-specific packing and orientation of the molecular dipole moments perpendicular to the air/water interface. In consequence, protein-driven generation of specific out-of-equilibrium states, an accepted concept for maintenance of transmembrane lipid asymmetry, must also be considered on the lateral level. Lateral enzyme-specific out-of-equilibrium organization of lipid domains represents a new level of signal transduction from local (nm) to long-range (microm) scales. The cross-talk between lateral domain structures and dipolar electrostatic fields adds new perspectives to the mechanisms of SMase-mediated signal transduction in biological membranes.
Project description:Membrane raft size measurements are crucial to understanding the stability and functionality of rafts in cells. The challenge of accurately measuring raft size is evidenced by the disparate reports of domain sizes, which range from nanometers to microns for the ternary model membrane system sphingomyelin (SM)/1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (POPC)/cholesterol (Chol). Using Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), we established phase diagrams for porcine brain SM (bSM)/dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DOPC)/Chol and bSM/POPC/Chol at 15 and 25°C. By combining two techniques with different spatial sensitivities, namely FRET and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), we have significantly narrowed the uncertainty in domain size estimates for bSM/POPC/Chol mixtures. Compositional trends in FRET data revealed coexisting domains at 15 and 25°C for both mixtures, while SANS measurements detected no domain formation for bSM/POPC/Chol. Together these results indicate that liquid domains in bSM/POPC/Chol are between 2 and 7nm in radius at 25°C: that is, domains must be on the order of the 2-6nm Förster distance of the FRET probes, but smaller than the ~7nm minimum cluster size detectable with SANS. However, for palmitoyl SM (PSM)/POPC/Chol at a similar composition, SANS detected coexisting liquid domains. This increase in domain size upon replacing the natural SM component (which consists of a mixture of chain lengths) with synthetic PSM, suggests a role for SM chain length in modulating raft size in vivo.
Project description:A mixture of sphingomyelin (SM) and cholesterol (Chol) exhibits a characteristic lipid raft domain of the cell membranes that provides a platform to which various signal molecules as well as virus and bacterial proteins are recruited. Several proteins capable of specifically binding either SM or Chol have been reported. However, proteins that selectively bind to SM/Chol mixtures are less well characterized. In our screening for proteins specifically binding to SM/Chol liposomes, we identified a novel ortholog of Pleurotus ostreatus, pleurotolysin (Ply)A, from the extract of edible mushroom Pleurotus eryngii, named PlyA2. Enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-conjugated PlyA2 bound to SM/Chol but not to phosphatidylcholine/Chol liposomes. Cell surface labeling of PlyA2-EGFP was abolished after sphingomyelinase as well as methyl-?-cyclodextrin treatment, removing SM and Chol, respectively, indicating that PlyA2-EGFP specifically binds cell surface SM/Chol rafts. Tryptophan to alanine point mutation of PlyA2 revealed the importance of C-terminal tryptophan residues for SM/Chol binding. Our results indicate that PlyA2-EGFP is a novel protein probe to label SM/Chol lipid domains both in cell and model membranes.
Project description:Influenza A virus (IAV) is a major human respiratory pathogen causing annual epidemics as well as periodic pandemics. A complete understanding of the virus pathogenesis and host factors involved in the viral lifecycle is crucial for developing novel therapeutic approaches. Sphingomyelin (SM) is the most abundant membrane sphingolipid. It preferentially associates with cholesterol to form distinct domains named lipid rafts. Sphingomyelinases, including acid sphingomyelinase (ASMase), catalyzes the hydrolysis of membrane SM and consequently transform lipid rafts into ceramide-enriched membrane platforms. In this study, we investigated the effect of SM hydrolysis on IAV propagation. Depleting plasma membrane SM by exogenous bacterial SMase (bSMase) impaired virus infection and reduced virus entry, whereas exogenous SM enhanced infection. Moreover, the depletion of virus envelope SM also reduced virus infectivity and impaired its attachment and internalization. Nonetheless, inhibition of ASMase by desipramine did not affect IAV infection. Similarly, virus replication was not impaired in Niemann-Pick disease type A (NPA) cells, which lack functional ASMase. IAV infection in A549 cells was associated with suppression of ASMase activity starting at 6 h post-infection. Our data reveals that intact cellular and viral envelope SM is required for efficient IAV infection. Therefore, SM metabolism can be a potential target for therapeutic intervention against influenza virus infection.
Project description:Sphingolipids constitute a significant fraction of cellular plasma membrane lipid content. Among sphingolipids, ceramide levels are usually very low. However, in some cell processes like apoptosis, cell membrane ceramide levels increase markedly because of the activation of enzymes like acid sphingomyelinase. This increase can change the physical state of the membrane by promoting molecular order and inducing solid-ordered (So) phase domains. This effect has been observed in a previous 2H NMR study on membranes consisting of palmitoyl sphingomyelin (PSM) and palmitoyl ceramide (PCer). Cholesterol (Chol), too, is present at high concentrations in mammalian plasma membranes and has a favorable interaction with sphingomyelin (SM), together forming domains in the liquid-ordered phase in model membranes. There are reports that Chol is able to displace ceramide (Cer) in SM bilayers and abolish the So phase domains formed by SM:Cer. This ability of Chol appears to be concentration dependent; in membranes with low Chol and high Cer contents, So phase domains rich in Cer coexist with the continuous fluid phase of the membrane. Here, we studied the effect of increasing PCer concentration in PSM:Chol bilayers, using 2H NMR. Chol:PCer mole ratios were 3:1, 3:2, and 3:3, at a fixed 7:3 phospholipid:cholesterol mol ratio. Both PSM and PCer were monitored in separate samples for changes in their physical state by introducing a perdeuterated palmitoyl chain in either molecule. Moreover, the effect of replacing PSM with DPPC was investigated to test the impact on membrane phase behavior of replacing the sphingosine with a palmitoylated glycerol backbone. We found that PCer can increase acyl chain order in both PSM:Chol and DPPC:Chol bilayers. Especially in bilayers with Chol:PCer 1:1 molar ratios, PCer induces highly stable So phase domains in both PSM and DPPC bilayers near 37°C. However, PCer has a more pronounced ordering effect on PSM compared to DPPC bilayers.
Project description:Lipid rafts are microdomains rich in sphingomyelin (SM) and cholesterol (Chol). The essential question is why natural lipid rafts prefer SM rather than saturated diacyl glycerophosphocholine, although both form ordered membranes with Chol in model systems. Hence in this study, we synthesized site-specifically deuterated 1-palmitoyl-2-stearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholines that match the acyl chain length of stearoyl-SM (SSM), and compared their deuterium quadrupole coupling profiles in detail. The results suggest a deeper distribution of Chol in the SSM membranes, a lower entropic penalty upon accommodation of Chol in SSM membranes, and a higher thermal stability of acyl-chain orders in the SSM-Chol bilayers than in the 1-palmitoyl-2-stearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine-Chol system at various Chol concentrations. The entropy effect and thermal stability should render SM a more preferred raft constituent than saturated diacyl glycerophosphocholine. Our data also demonstrate that the selective and comprehensive deuteration strategy is indispensable for accurate comparison of order profiles.
Project description:Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA), enriched in fish oils, are increasingly recognized to have potential benefits for treating many human afflictions. Despite the importance of PUFA, their molecular mechanism of action remains unclear. One emerging hypothesis is that phospholipids containing n-3 PUFA acyl chains modify the structure and composition of membrane rafts, thus affecting cell signaling. In this study the two major n-3 PUFA found in fish oils, eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids, are compared. Using solid-state (2)H NMR spectroscopy we explored the molecular organization of 1-[(2)H(31)]palmitoyl-2-eicosapentaenoylphosphatidylcholine (PEPC-d(31)) and 1-[(2)H(31)]palmitoyl-2-docosahexaenoylphosphatidylcholine (PDPC-d(31)) in mixtures with sphingomyelin (SM) and cholesterol (chol). Our results indicate that whereas both PEPC-d(31) and PDPC-d(31) can accumulate into SM-rich/chol-rich raftlike domains, the tendency for DHA to incorporate into rafts is more than twice as great as for EPA. We propose that DHA may be the more bioactive component of fish oil that serves to disrupt lipid raft domain organization. This mechanism represents an evolution in the view of how PUFA remodel membrane architecture.