Regulation of intracellular ceramide content in B16 melanoma cells: Biological implications of ceramide glycosylation

Hironobu Komori, Shinichi Ichikawa, Yoshio Hirabayashi, Makoto Ito

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39 Citations (Scopus)


We previously reported that ceramide released from glycosphingolipids (GSLs) by endoglycoceramidase was directly metabolized to GSLs, and thus the content of GSLs was constantly maintained in B16 melanoma cells (Ito, M., and Komori, H. (1996) J. Biol. Chem. 271, 1265512660). In this study, the metabolism of ceramide released from sphingomyelin (SM) by bacterial sphingomyelinase (SMase) was examined using B16 cells and their GSL-deficient mutant counterpart GM95 cells. Treatment of B16 melanoma cells with bacterial SMase effectively hydrolyzed SM on the plasma membrane. Under these conditions, NeuAcα2,3Galβ1,4Glcβ1,1ceramide was significantly increased. Interestingly, UDP-glucose: ceramide glucosyltransferase-1 (GlcT-1) activity and GSL synthesis, but not SM synthesis or sphingosine generation, were found to be up-regulated by SMase treatment. The up-regulation of GSL synthesis seemed to occur at both the transcriptional and post-translational steps of GlcT-1 synthesis. Accumulation of ceramide by bacterial SMase was much higher in GM95 cells than in the parental cells. When the enzyme was removed from the culture medium, the intracellular ceramide level in B16 cells, but not that in the mutant cells, normalized. No rapid restoration of SM in either of the cell lines was observed after removal of the enzyme. SMase treatment strongly inhibited DNA synthesis in GM95 cells but not that in B16 cells. In the presence of D-threo-1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol, an inhibitor of GlcT-1, SMase treatment markedly increased the ceramide content and thus inhibited DNA synthesis in B16 cells. Our study provides the first evidence that GlcT-1 functions to regulate the level of intracellular ceramide by glycosylation of the ceramide when it is present in excess.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8981-8987
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Mar 26 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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