Direct quantitative determination of ceramide glycosylation in vivo: a new approach to evaluate cellular enzyme activity of glucosylceramide synthase.
ABSTRACT Glucosylceramide synthase (GCS or GlcT-1), converting ceramide to glucosylceramide, is a key enzyme for the synthesis of glycosphingolipids. Due to its diverse roles in physiology and diseases, GCS may be a disease marker and drug target. Current assays for enzymes including GCS are based on reactions conducted in a test tube using enzyme preparations. Measurement of enzyme activity in laboratory-made conditions cannot directly evaluate the role of GCS in cells. Here, we introduce a new approach to determine GCS cellular activity using fluorescent NBD C6-ceramide in vivo. Cellular GCS transfers UDP-glucose to NBD C6-ceramide and produces NBD C6-glucosylceramide. C6-glucosylceramide is then separated from C6-ceramide by thin-layer chromatography and both are then quantitated by spectrophotometer. This cell-based method is able to quantitate glucosylceramide in pmol range, produced by approximately 50,000 cells or 1.0 mg tissue. This method has been used successfully to evaluate the degrees of GCS enzyme in cells and in tumors subjected to gene manipulation and chemical inhibition. These data indicate that this cell-based fluorescent method is direct, reproducible, and simple for assessing ceramide glycosylation. It is applicable to validate GCS activity in drug-resistant cancers and in other disorders.
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ABSTRACT: Gangliosides are unique acidic glycolipids that are selectively concentrated in the plasma membrane of cells. Surface labeling studies have demonstrated that at least a portion of the oligosaccharde chain of gangliosides extends beyond the hydrophe) is imbedded in the membrane bilayer. It is becoming increasingly apparent that gangliosides participate in the internalization of environmental signals elicited by cholera toxin and glycoprotein hormones such as thyrotropic hormone and chorionic gonadotropin as well as other substances such as interferon and possibly serotonin. The mechanism by which cholera toxin binds to a specific ganglioside receptor on the celraction of trophic agents with gangliosides. We would predict that analyogous phenomena involving gangliosides will be discovered in brain. The biosynthesis of gangliosides proceeds by the ordered sequential addition of sugars to the lipid moiety. These reactions are catalyzed by a cluster of membrane-bound glycosyltransferases. Any alteration in the activity or specificity of one of these enzymes will result in a dramatic change in the ganglioside pattern of an afflicted cell or organ. The drastic consequences that accompany abnormalities of ganglioside synthesis have been documented in a heritable metabolic disorder in vivo and in tumorigenic transformation of cells in vitro. In this article, we have attempted to unify these observations and to provide a reasonable interpretation of the role of gangliosides in mediating cell surface phenomena.Science 12/1976; 194(4268):906-15. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) are amphipathic lipids ubiquitously expressed in all vertebrate cells and body fluids, but they are especially abundant in the nervous system. The synthesis of GSLs generally is initiated in the endoplasmic reticulum and completed in the Golgi apparatus, followed by transportation to the plasma membrane surface as an integral component. The amount and expression patterns of GSLs change drastically in brains during the embryonic to postnatal stages. Recent studies have revealed that GSLs are highly localized in cell surface microdomains and function as important components that mediate signal transduction and cell adhesion. Also in developing brains, GSLs are suggested to play important roles in nervous system formation. Disturbance of GSL expression and metabolism affects brain function, resulting in a variety of diseases, particularly lysosomal storage diseases. In this review, we describe some aspects of the roles of GSLs, especially of gangliosides, in brain development.The Journal of Lipid Research 11/2008; 50 Suppl:S440-5. · 5.56 Impact Factor