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Title: Changes in membrane biophysical properties induced by sphingomyelinase depend on the sphingolipid N -acyl chain
Authors: Pinto, Sandra N. 
Laviad, Elad L. 
Stiban, Johnny 
Kelly, Samuel L. 
Merrill , Alfred H. Jr. 
Prieto, Manuel 
Futerman, Anthony H. 
Silva, Liana C. 
Keywords: Sphingolipids;Acyl chain structure;Membranes (Biology);Ceramides;Cellular signal transduction;Lipid membranes;Membrane proteins;Lipid domains;Membranes (Biology) - Mechanical properties;Sphingolipids - Metabolism;Ceramide synthases;Membrane remodeling
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Journal of Lipid Research
Abstract: Ceramide (Cer) is involved in the regulation of several cellular processes by mechanisms that depend on Cer-induced changes on membrane biophysical properties. Accumulating evidence shows that Cers with different N - acyl chain composition differentially impact cell physiology, which may in part be due to specifi c alterations in membrane biophysical properties. We now address how the sphingolipid (SL) N -acyl chain affects membrane properties in cultured human embryonic kidney cells by overexpressing different Cer synthases (CerSs ). Our results show an increase in the order of cellular membranes in CerS2-transfected cells caused by the enrichment in very long acyl chain SLs. Formation of Cer upon treatment of cells with bacterial sphingomyelinase promoted sequential changes in the properties of the membranes: after an initial increase in the order of the fluid plasma membrane, reorganization into domains with gel-like properties whose characteristics are dependent on the acyl chain structure of the Cer was observed. Moreover, the extent of alterations of membrane properties correlates with the amount of Cer formed. These data reinforce the significance of Cer-induced changes on membrane biophysical properties as a likely molecular mechanism by which different acyl chain Cers exert their specifi c biological actions.
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