Characterization of Plasma Membrane Ceramides by Super-Resolution Microscopy.
ABSTRACT: The sphingolipid ceramide regulates cellular processes such as differentiation, proliferation, growth arrest, and apoptosis. Ceramide-rich membrane areas promote structural changes within the plasma membrane that segregate membrane receptors and affect membrane curvature and vesicle formation, fusion, and trafficking. Ceramides were labeled by immunocytochemistry to visualize their distribution on the plasma membrane of different cells with virtually molecular resolution by direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM). Super-resolution images show that independent of labeling conditions and cell type 50-60?% of all membrane ceramides are located in ceramide-rich platforms (CRPs) with a size of about 75?nm that are composed of at least about 20 ceramides. Treatment of cells with Bacillus cereus sphingomyelinase (bSMase) increases the overall ceramide concentration in the plasma membrane, the quantity of CRPs, and their size. Simultaneously, the ceramide concentration in CRPs increases approximately twofold.
Project description:ERM proteins are regulated by phosphorylation of the most C-terminal threonine residue, switching them from an activated to an inactivated form. However, little is known about the control of this regulation. Previous work in our group demonstrated that secretion of acid sphingomyelinase acts upstream of ERM dephosphorylation, suggesting the involvement of sphingomyelin (SM) hydrolysis in ERM regulation. To define the role of specific lipids, we employed recombinant bacterial sphingomyelinase (bSMase) as a direct probe of SM metabolism at the plasma membrane. bSMase induced a rapid dose- and time-dependent decrease in ERM dephosphorylation. ERM dephosphorylation was driven by ceramide generation and not by sphingomyelin depletion, as shown using recombinant sphingomyelinase D. The generation of ceramide at the plasma membrane was sufficient for ERM regulation, and no intracellular SM hydrolysis was required, as was visualized using Venus-tagged lysenin probe, which specifically binds SM. Interestingly, hydrolysis of plasma membrane bSMase-induced ceramide using bacterial ceramidase caused ERM hyperphosphorylation and formation of cell surface protrusions. The effects of plasma membrane ceramide hydrolysis were due to sphingosine 1-phosphate formation, as ERM phosphorylation was blocked by an inhibitor of sphingosine kinase and induced by sphingosine 1-phosphate. Taken together, these results demonstrate a new regulatory mechanism of ERM phosphorylation by sphingolipids with opposing actions of ceramide and sphingosine 1-phosphate. The approach also defines a tool kit to probe sphingolipid signaling at the plasma membrane.
Project description:Silencing of T cell activation and function is a highly efficient strategy of immunosuppression induced by pathogens. By promoting formation of membrane microdomains essential for clustering of receptors and signalling platforms in the plasma membrane, ceramides accumulating as a result of membrane sphingomyelin breakdown are not only essential for assembly of signalling complexes and pathogen entry, but also act as signalling modulators, e. g. by regulating relay of phosphatidyl-inositol-3-kinase (PI3K) signalling. Their role in T lymphocyte functions has not been addressed as yet. We now show that measles virus (MV), which interacts with the surface of T cells and thereby efficiently interferes with stimulated dynamic reorganisation of their actin cytoskeleton, causes ceramide accumulation in human T cells in a neutral (NSM) and acid (ASM) sphingomyelinase-dependent manner. Ceramides induced by MV, but also bacterial sphingomyelinase, efficiently interfered with formation of membrane protrusions and T cell spreading and front/rear polarisation in response to beta1 integrin ligation or alphaCD3/CD28 activation, and this was rescued upon pharmacological or genetic ablation of ASM/NSM activity. Moreover, membrane ceramide accumulation downmodulated chemokine-induced T cell motility on fibronectin. Altogether, these findings highlight an as yet unrecognised concept of pathogens able to cause membrane ceramide accumulation to target essential processes in T cell activation and function by preventing stimulated actin cytoskeletal dynamics.
Project description:The de novo pathway of ceramide synthesis has been implicated in the pathogenesis of excessive lung apoptosis and murine emphysema. Intracellular and paracellular-generated ceramides may trigger apoptosis and propagate the death signals to neighboring cells, respectively. In this study we compared the sphingolipid signaling pathways triggered by the paracellular- versus intracellular-generated ceramides as they induce lung endothelial cell apoptosis, a process important in emphysema development. Intermediate-chain length (C(8:0)) extracellular ceramides, used as a surrogate of paracellular ceramides, triggered caspase-3 activation in primary mouse lung endothelial cells, similar to TNF-alpha-generated endogenous ceramides. Inhibitory siRNA against serine palmitoyl transferase subunit 1 but not acid sphingomyelinase inhibited both C(8:0) ceramide- and TNF-alpha (plus cycloheximide)-induced apoptosis, consistent with the requirement for activation of the de novo pathway of sphingolipid synthesis. Tandem mass spectrometry analysis detected increases in both relative and absolute levels of C(16:0) ceramide in response to C(8:0) and TNF-alpha treatments. These results implicate the de novo pathway of ceramide synthesis in the apoptotic effects of both paracellular ceramides and TNF-alpha-stimulated intracellular ceramides in primary lung endothelial cells. The serine palmitoyl synthase-regulated ceramides synthesis may contribute to the amplification of pulmonary vascular injury induced by excessive ceramides.
Project description:Ceramidases hydrolyze ceramides into sphingosine and fatty acids, with sphingosine being further metabolized into sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P); thus, ceramidases control the levels of these bioactive sphingolipids in cells and tissues. Neutral ceramidase (nCDase) is highly expressed in colorectal tissues, and a recent report showed that nCDase activity is involved in Wnt/?-catenin signaling. In addition, the inhibition of nCDase decreases the development and progression of colorectal tumor growth. Here, to determine the action of nCDase in colorectal cancer cells, we focused on the subcellular localization and metabolic functions of this enzyme in HCT116 cells. nCDase was found to be located in both the plasma membrane and in the Golgi apparatus, but it had minimal effects on basal levels of ceramide, sphingosine, or S1P. Cells overexpressing nCDase were protected from the cell death and Golgi fragmentation induced by C6-ceramide, and they showed reduced levels of C6-ceramide and higher levels of S1P and sphingosine. Furthermore, compartment-specific metabolic functions of the enzyme were probed using C6-ceramide and Golgi-targeted bacterial SMase (bSMase) and bacterial ceramidase (bCDase). The results showed that Golgi-specific bCDase also demonstrated resistance against the cell death stimulated by C6-ceramide, and it catalyzed the metabolism of ceramides and produced sphingosine in the Golgi. Targeting bSMase to the Golgi resulted in increased levels of ceramide that were attenuated by the expression of nCDase, also supporting its ability to metabolize Golgi-generated ceramide. These results are critical in understanding the functions of nCDase actions in colorectal cancer cells as well as the compartmentalized pathways of sphingolipid metabolism.
Project description:A novel MALDI-FTICR imaging mass spectrometry (MALDI-IMS) workflow is described for on-tissue detection, spatial localization, and structural confirmation of low abundance bioactive ceramides and other sphingolipids. Increasingly, altered or elevated levels of sphingolipids, sphingolipid metabolites, and sphingolipid metabolizing enzymes have been associated with a variety of disorders such as diabetes, obesity, lysosomal storage disorders, and cancer. Ceramide, which serves as a metabolic hub in sphingolipid metabolism, has been linked to cancer signaling pathways and to metabolic regulation with involvement in autophagy, cell-cycle arrest, senescence, and apoptosis. Using kidney tissues from a new Farber disease mouse model in which ceramides of all acyl chain lengths and other sphingolipid metabolites accumulate in tissues, specific ceramides and sphingomyelins were identified by on-tissue isolation and fragmentation, coupled with an on-tissue digestion by ceramidase or sphingomyelinase. Multiple glycosphingolipid species were also detected. The newly generated library of sphingolipid ions was then applied to MALDI-IMS of human lung cancer tissues. Multiple tumor specific ceramide and sphingomyelin species were detected and confirmed by on-tissue enzyme digests and structural confirmation. High-resolution MALDI-IMS in combination with novel on-tissue ceramidase and sphingomyelinase enzyme digestions makes it now possible to rapidly visualize the distribution of bioactive ceramides and sphingomyelin in tissues.
Project description:A decreased clearance of apoptotic cells (efferocytosis) by alveolar macrophages (AM) may contribute to inflammation in emphysema. The up-regulation of ceramides in response to cigarette smoking (CS) has been linked to AM accumulation and increased detection of apoptotic alveolar epithelial and endothelial cells in lung parenchyma. We hypothesized that ceramides inhibit the AM phagocytosis of apoptotic cells. Release of endogenous ceramides via sphingomyelinase or exogenous ceramide treatments dose-dependently impaired apoptotic Jurkat cell phagocytosis by primary rat or human AM, irrespective of the molecular species of ceramide. Similarly, in vivo augmentation of lung ceramides via intratracheal instillation in rats significantly decreased the engulfment of instilled target apoptotic thymocytes by resident AM. The mechanism of ceramide-induced efferocytosis impairment was dependent on generation of sphingosine via ceramidase. Sphingosine treatment recapitulated the effects of ceramide, dose-dependently inhibiting apoptotic cell clearance. The effect of ceramide on efferocytosis was associated with decreased membrane ruffle formation and attenuated Rac1 plasma membrane recruitment. Constitutively active Rac1 overexpression rescued AM efferocytosis against the effects of ceramide. CS exposure significantly increased AM ceramides and recapitulated the effect of ceramides on Rac1 membrane recruitment in a sphingosine-dependent manner. Importantly, CS profoundly inhibited AM efferocytosis via ceramide-dependent sphingosine production. These results suggest that excessive lung ceramides may amplify lung injury in emphysema by causing both apoptosis of structural cells and inhibition of their clearance by AM.
Project description:In order to study the in vivo function of the phosphatidylinositol transfer protein beta (PI-TPbeta), mouse NIH3T3 fibroblasts were transfected with cDNA encoding mouse PI-TPbeta. Two stable cell lines were isolated (SPIbeta2 and SPIbeta8) in which the levels of PI-TPbeta were increased 16- and 11-fold respectively. The doubling time of the SPIbeta cells was about 1.7 times that of the wild-type (wt) cells. Because PI-TPbeta expresses transfer activity towards sphingomyelin (SM) in vitro, the SM metabolism of the overexpressors was investigated. By measuring the incorporation of [methyl-(3)H]choline chloride in SM and phosphatidylcholine (PtdCho), it was shown that the rate of de novo SM and PtdCho synthesis was similar in transfected and wt cells. We also determined the ability of the cells to resynthesize SM from ceramide produced in the plasma membrane by the action of bacterial sphingomyelinase (bSMase). In these experiments the cells were labelled to equilibrium (60 h) with [(3)H]choline. At relatively low bSMase concentrations (50 munits/ml), 50% of [(3)H]SM in wt NIH3T3 cells was degraded, whereas the levels of [(3)H]SM in SPIbeta cells appeared to be unaffected. Since the release of [(3)H]choline phosphate into the medium was comparable for both wt NIH3T3 and SPIbeta cells, these results strongly suggest that breakdown of SM in SPIbeta cells was masked by rapid resynthesis of SM from the ceramide formed. By increasing the bSMase concentrations to 200 munits/ml, a 50% decrease in the level of [(3)H]SM in SPIbeta cells was attained. During a recovery period of 6 h (in the absence of bSMase) the resynthesis of SM was found to be much more pronounced in these SPIbeta cells than in 50% [(3)H]SM-depleted wt NIH3T3 cells. After 6 h of recovery about 50% of the resynthesized SM in the SPIbeta cells was available for a second hydrolysis by bSMase. When monensin was present during the recovery period, the resynthesis of SM in bSMase-treated SPIbeta cells was not affected. However, under these conditions 100% of the resynthesized SM was available for hydrolysis. On the basis of these results we propose that, under conditions where ceramide is formed in the plasma membrane, PI-TPbeta plays an important role in restoring the steady-state levels of SM.
Project description:Acid sphingomyelinase occupies a prominent position in sphingolipid catabolism, catalyzing the hydrolysis of sphingomyelin to ceramide and phosphorylcholine. Enzymatic dysfunction of acid sphingomyelinase results in Niemann-Pick disease, a lysosomal storage disorder characterized at the cellular level by accumulation of sphingomyelin within the endo-lysosomal compartment. Over the past decade interest in the role of acid sphingomyelinase has moved beyond its "housekeeping" function in constitutive turnover of sphingomyelin in the lysosome to include study of regulated ceramide generation. Ceramide functions as a bioactive sphingolipid with pleiotropic signaling properties, and has been implicated in diverse cellular processes of physiologic and pathophysiologic importance. Though many cellular enzymes have the capacity to generate ceramide,there is growing appreciation that "all ceramides are not created equal." Ceramides likely exert distinct effects in different cellular/subcellular compartments by virtue of access to other sphingolipid enzymes (e.g.ceramidases), effector molecules (e.g. ceramide-activated protein phosphatases), and neighboring lipids and proteins (e.g. cholesterol, ion channels). One of the unique features of acid sphingomyelinase is that it has been implicated in the hydrolysis of sphingomyelin in three different settings--the endo-lysosomal compartment,the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane, and lipoproteins. How a single gene product has the capacity to function in these diverse settings, and the subsequent impact on downstream ceramide-mediated biology is the subject of this review.
Project description:We investigated the relationship between insulin resistance markers and subsarcolemmal (SS) and intramyofibrillar (IMF) ceramide concentrations, as well as the contribution of plasma palmitate (6.5-h infusion of [U-13C]palmitate) to intramyocellular ceramides. Seventy-six postabsorptive men and women had muscle biopsies 1.5, 6.5, and 24 h after starting the tracer infusion. Concentrations and enrichment of muscle ceramides were measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. We found that HOMA of insulin resistance, plasma insulin, and triglyceride concentrations were positively correlated with SS C16:0 and C18:1 ceramide, but not SS C14:0-Cer, C20:0-Cer, C24:0-Cer, and C24:1-Cer concentrations; IMF ceramide concentrations were not correlated with any metabolic parameters. The fractional contribution of plasma palmitate to 16:0 ceramide was greater in SS than IMF (SS, 18.2% vs. IMF, 8.7%; P = 0.0006). Plasma insulin concentrations correlated positively with the fractional contribution of plasma palmitate to SS 16:0 ceramide. The fractional contribution of plasma palmitate to intramyocellular SS 16:0 ceramide was positively correlated with SS C16:0 ceramide concentrations (? = 0.435; P = 0.002). We conclude that skeletal muscle SS ceramides, especially C16 to C18 chain lengths and the de novo synthesis of intramyocellular ceramide from plasma palmitate are associated with markers of insulin resistance.
Project description:We recently showed that targeting bSMase (bacterial sphingomyelinase) specifically to mitochondria caused accumulation of ceramide in mitochondria, and induced cytochrome c release and cell death [Birbes, El Bawab, Hannun and Obeid (2001) FASEB J., 15, 2669-2679]. In the present study, we investigated the role of this mitochondrial pool of ceramide in response to a receptor-mediated event, namely TNFalpha (tumour necrosis factor alpha), and the involvement of this mitochondrial pool of ceramide in Bax translocation to mitochondria, an event that precedes cytochrome c release. Treatment of MCF7 cells with TNFalpha caused an increase in ceramide levels in the mitochondrial fraction which accompanied Bax translocation to mitochondria. Targeting bSMase to mitochondria specifically resulted in Bax translocation to mitochondria, suggesting that the mitochondrial ceramide pool is involved in Bax translocation. Moreover, in a reconstituted cell-free system, treatment of isolated mitochondria with bSMase enhanced Bax association with mitochondrial membranes. Collectively, these results suggest that the generation of ceramide in mitochondria in response to TNFalpha is sufficient to induce Bax translocation to mitochondria and subsequent cytochrome c release and cell death.