A Robust Liposomal Platform for Direct Colorimetric Detection of Sphingomyelinase Enzyme and Inhibitors.
ABSTRACT: The enzyme sphingomyelinase (SMase) is an important biomarker for several diseases such as Niemann Pick's, atherosclerosis, multiple sclerosis, and HIV. We present a two-component colorimetric SMase activity assay that is more sensitive and much faster than currently available commercial assays. Herein, SMase-triggered release of cysteine from a sphingomyelin (SM)-based liposome formulation with 60 mol % cholesterol causes gold nanoparticle (AuNP) aggregation, enabling colorimetric detection of SMase activities as low as 0.02 mU/mL, corresponding to 1.4 pM concentration. While the lipid composition offers a stable, nonleaky liposome platform with minimal background signal, high specificity toward SMase avoids cross-reactivity of other similar phospholipases. Notably, use of an SM-based liposome formulation accurately mimics the natural in vivo substrate: the cell membrane. We studied the physical rearrangement process of the lipid membrane during SMase-mediated hydrolysis of SM to ceramide using small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering. A change in lipid phase from a liquid to gel state bilayer with increasing concentration of ceramide accounts for the observed increase in membrane permeability and consequent release of encapsulated cysteine. We further demonstrated the effectiveness of the sensor in colorimetric screening of small-molecule drug candidates, paving the way for the identification of novel SMase inhibitors in minutes. Taken together, the simplicity, speed, sensitivity, and naked-eye readout of this assay offer huge potential in point-of-care diagnostics and high-throughput drug screening.
Project description: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: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:Activation of sphingomyelinase (SMase) by extracellular stimuli is the major pathway for cellular production of ceramide, a bioactive lipid mediator acting through sphingomyelin (SM) hydrolysis. Previously, we reported the existence of six forms of neutral pH-optimum and Mg(2+)-dependent SMase (N-SMase) in the membrane fractions of bovine brain. Here, we focus on N-SMase ? from salt-extracted membranes. After extensive purification by 12,780-fold with a yield of 1.3%, this enzyme was eventually characterized as N-SMase2. The major single band of 60-kDa molecular mass in the active fractions of the final purification step was identified as heat shock protein 60 (Hsp60) by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometric analysis. Proximity ligation assay and immunoprecipitation study showed that Hsp60 interacted with N-SMase2, prompting us to examine the effect of Hsp60 on N-SMase2 and ceramide production. Interestingly, Hsp60 siRNA treatment significantly increased the protein level of N-SMase2 in N-SMase2-overexpressed HEK293 cells. Furthermore, transfection of Hsp60 siRNA into PC12 cells effectively increased both N-SMase activity and ceramide production and increased dopamine re-uptake with paralleled increase. Taken together, these results show that Hsp60 may serve as a negative regulator in N-SMase2-induced dopamine re-uptake by decreasing the protein level of N-SMase2.
Project description:Sphingolipid metabolism and metabolites are important in various cellular events in eukaryotes. However, little is known about their function in plasmodial parasites. Here we demonstrate that neutral sphingomyelinase (SMase) involved in the sphingomyelin (SM) catabolism is retained by the intraerythrocytic parasite Plasmodium falciparum. When assayed in a neutral pH buffer supplemented with Mg(2+) and phosphatidylserine, an activity for the release of the phosphocholine group from SM was detected in parasite-infected, but not in uninfected, erythrocyte ghosts. The SMase activity in the parasite-infected erythrocyte ghosts was enhanced markedly by anionic phospholipids including unsaturated but not saturated phosphatidylserine. Mn(2+) could not substitute for Mg(2+) to activate SMase in parasite-infected erythrocyte ghosts, whereas both Mn(2+) and Mg(2+) activated mammalian neutral SMase. The specific activity level of SMase was higher in isolated parasites than in infected erythrocyte ghosts; further fractionation of lysates of the isolated parasites showed that the activity was bound largely to the membrane fraction of the parasites. The plasmodial SMase seemed not to hydrolyse phosphatidylcholine or phosphatidylinositol. The plasmodial SMase, but not SM synthase, was sensitive to scyphostatin, an inhibitor of mammalian neutral SMase, indicating that the plasmodial activities for SM hydrolysis and SM synthesis are mediated by different catalysts. Our finding that the malaria parasites possess SMase activity might explain why the parasites seem to have an SM synthase activity but no activity to synthesize ceramide de novo.
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:The involvement of the plasma membrane in the metabolism of the sphingolipids sphingomyelin (SM) and glucosylceramide (GlcCer) was studied, employing fluorescent short-chain analogues of these lipids, 6-[N-(7-nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazol-4-yl) amino]hexanoylsphingosylphosphorylcholine (C6-NBD-SM), C6-NBD-GlcCer and their common biosynthetic precursor C6-NBD-ceramide (C6-NBD-Cer). Although these fluorescent short-chain analogues are metabolically active, some caution is to be taken in view of potential changes in biophysical/biochemical properties of the lipid compared with its natural counterpart. However, these short-chain analogues offer the advantage of studying the lipid metabolic enzymes in their natural environment, since detergent solubilization is not necessary for measuring their activity. These studies were carried out with several cell types, including two phenotypes (differing in state of differentiation) of HT29 cells. Degradation and biosynthesis of C6-NBD-SM and C6-NBD-GlcCer were determined in intact cells, in their isolated plasma membranes, and in plasma membranes isolated from rat liver tissue. C6-NBD-SM was found to be subject to extensive degradation in the plasma membrane, due to neutral sphingomyelinase (N-SMase) activity. The extent of C6-NBD-SM hydrolysis showed a general cell-type dependence and turned out to be dependent on the state of cell differentiation, as revealed for HT29 cells. In undifferentiated HT29 cells N-SMase activity was at least threefold higher than in its differentiated counterpart. In contrast, in all cell types studied, very little if any biosynthesis of C6-NBD-SM from the precursor C6-NBD-Cer occurred. Moreover, in the case of C6-NBD-GlcCer, neither hydrolytic nor synthetic activity was found to be associated with the plasma membrane. These results are discussed in the context of the involvement of the sphingolipids SM and GlcCer in signal transduction pathways in the plasma membrane.
Project description:Alkaline sphingomyelinase (alk-SMase) hydrolyses sphingomyelin (SM) to ceramide in the gut. To evaluate the physiological importance of the enzyme, we generated alk-SMase knockout (KO) mice by the Cre-recombinase-Locus of X-over P1(Cre-LoxP) system and studied SM digestion. Both wild-type (WT) and KO mice were fed ³H-palmitic acid labeled SM together with milk SM by gavage. The lipids in intestinal content, intestinal tissues, serum, and liver were analyzed by TLC. In KO mice, nondigested ³H-SM in the intestinal content increased by 6-fold and the formation of ³H-ceramide decreased markedly, resulting in 98% reduction of ³H-ceramide/³H-SM ratio 1 h after gavage. The absorbed ³H-palmitic acid portion was decreased by 95%. After 3 h, a small increase in ³H-ceramide was identified in distal intestine in KO mice. In feces, ³H-SM was increased by 243% and ceramide decreased by 74% in the KO mice. The KO mice also showed significantly decreased radioactivity in liver and serum. Furthermore, alkaline phosphatase activity in the mucosa was reduced by 50% and histological comparison of two female littermates preliminarily suggested mucosal hypertrophy in KO mice. This study provides definite proof for crucial roles of alk-SMase in SM digestion and points to possible roles in regulating mucosal growth and alkaline phosphatase function.
Project description:We propose that accumulated membrane bending energy elicits a neutral sphingomyelinase (SMase) activity in human erythrocytes. Membrane bending was achieved by osmotic or chemical processes, and SMase activity was assessed by quantitative thin-layer chromatography, high-performance liquid chromatography, and electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry. The activity induced by hypotonic stress in erythrocyte membranes had the pH dependence, ion dependence, and inhibitor sensitivity of mammalian neutral SMases. The activity caused a decrease in SM contents, with a minimum at 6 min after onset of the hypotonic conditions, and then the SM contents were recovered. We also elicited SMase activity by adding lysophosphatidylcholine externally or by generating it with phospholipase A(2). The same effect was observed upon addition of chlorpromazine or sodium deoxycholate at concentrations below the critical micellar concentration, and even under hypertonic conditions. A unifying factor of the various agents that elicit this SMase activity is the accumulated membrane bending energy. Both hypo-and hypertonic conditions impose an increased curvature, whereas the addition of surfactants or phospholipase A(2) activation increases the outer monolayer area, thus leading to an increased bending energy. The fact that this latent SMase activity is tightly coupled to the membrane bending properties suggests that it may be related to the general phenomenon of stress-induced ceramide synthesis and apoptosis.
Project description:Sphingomyelinases (SMases) hydrolyze membrane sphingomyelin to ceramide and are expressed by diverse host and microbial cell types populating mucosal surfaces. Exogenous bacterial SMase acts on the basolateral membrane of polarized human intestinal epithelial cells to repress the cAMP-induced Cl(-) secretory response, but how this occurs is unknown. We show here that SMase acts by down-regulating a cAMP-gated basolateral membrane K(+) conductance. Neither phosphocholine, ceramide-1-phosphate, nor sphingosine-1-phosphate recapitulates this effect, indicating that ceramide production is the decisive factor. Basolaterally applied SMase induced the phosphorylation of c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK), and inhibition of JNK rescued the effect of SMase on cAMP-dependant secretion. SMase secreted by normal human fibroblasts specifically recapitulated the effect on cAMP-induced Cl(-) secretion, indicating that cell types inhabiting the subepithelial space can provide such an activity to the basolateral membrane of intestinal enterocytes in trans. Thus, conversion of sphingomyelin to ceramide in basolateral membranes of intestinal cells rapidly activates JNK to inhibit a cAMP-gated K(+) conductance and thereby attenuates Cl(-) secretion. These results define a novel lipid-mediated pathway for regulation of salt and water homeostasis at mucosal surfaces.
Project description:Ceramide, a bioactive lipid, has been extensively studied and identified as an essential bioactive molecule in mediating cellular signaling pathways. Sphingomyelinase (SMase), (EC 18.104.22.168) catalyzes the cleavage of the phosphodiester bond in sphingomyelin (SM) to form ceramide and phosphocholine. In mammals, three Mg(2+)-dependent neutral SMases termed nSMase1, nSMase2 and nSMase3 have been identified. Among the three enzymes, nSMase2 is the most studied and has been implicated in multiple physiological responses including cell growth arrest, apoptosis, development and inflammation. In this review, we summarize recent findings for the cloned nSMases and discuss the insights for their roles in regulation ceramide metabolism and cellular signaling pathway.