K Ferlinz

University of Bonn, Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

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Publications (24)163.13 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Degradation of membrane-bound sphingomyelin to phosphorylcholine and ceramide is catalyzed by the water-soluble lysosomal acid sphingomyelinase (A-SMase). The presence of sphingolipid activator proteins (Saps: saposins A-D; GM2 activator) is not essential to mediate this reaction at the water-lipid interface in vivo . A hypothesis based on amino acid sequence alignments suggests that the enzyme possesses an N-terminal saposin-homologous domain, which may facilitate the enzymatic reaction at the interface. We mutated one homologous and three conserved amino acid residues of this domain and studied the activity of the variant enzymes using different sphingomyelin degradation assays. A variant with an exchange of a conserved amino acid residue, Pro153Ala, still exhibited enzyme activity of approximately 52% of normal in a detergent-containing micellar assay, but only 13% of normal in a detergent-free liposomal assay system, which suggests that the Sap-homologous domain fulfills membrane-disturbing functions. Addition of saposin C to the liposomal assay mixtures increased the Pro153Ala variant sphingomyelinase activity to 46% of normal, indicating that the variant saposin-like domain can be substituted by the presence of the sphingolipid activator protein. On the other hand, the addition of saposin C did not result in complete restoration of the variant activity. Thus, the Sap-like domain may also have another role, e.g., to stabilize the fold of acid sphingomyelinase, which cannot be compensated by the presence of saposin C or a detergent. Such an essential second function of the saposin-like domain as an integral part of acid sphingomyelinase is confirmed by our observation that the Lys118Glu, Cys120Ser and Cys131Ser variants were almost completely devoid of activity in the detergent-containing micellar assay system as well as in the liposomal assay system in the presence of saposin C.
    Biological Chemistry 01/2005; 385(12):1193-5. · 2.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Acid sphingomyelinase (A-SMase, EC 3.1.4.12) catalyzes the lysosomal degradation of sphingomyelin to phosphorylcholine and ceramide. Inherited deficiencies of acid sphingomyelinase activity result in various clinical forms of Niemann-Pick disease, which are characterised by massive lysosomal accumulation of sphingomyelin. Sphingomyelin hydrolysis by both, acid sphingomyelinase and membrane-associated neutral sphingomyelinase, plays also an important role in cellular signaling systems regulating proliferation, apoptosis and differentiation. Here, we present a potent and selective novel inhibitor of A-SMase, L-alpha-phosphatidyl-D-myo-inositol-3,5-bisphosphate (PtdIns3,5P2), a naturally occurring substance detected in mammalian, plant and yeast cells. The inhibition constant Ki for the new A-SMase inhibitor PtdIns3,5P2 is 0.53 microM as determined in a micellar assay system with radiolabeled sphingomyelin as substrate and recombinant human A-SMase purified from insect cells. Even at concentrations of up to 50 microM, PtdIns3,5P2 neither decreased plasma membrane-associated, magnesium-dependent neutral sphingomyelinase activity, nor was it an inhibitor of the lysosomal hydrolases beta-hexosaminidase A and acid ceramidase. Other phosphoinositides tested had no or a much weaker effect on acid sphingomyelinase. Different inositol-bisphosphates were studied to elucidate structure-activity relationships for A-SMase inhibition. Our investigations provide an insight into the structural features required for selective, efficient inhibition of acid sphingomyelinase and may also be used as starting point for the development of new potent A-SMase inhibitors optimised for diverse applications.
    Biological Chemistry 10/2003; 384(9):1293-8. · 2.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The biosynthesis of human acid ceramidase (hAC) starts with the expression of a single precursor polypeptide of approximately 53-55 kDa, which is subsequently processed to the mature, heterodimeric enzyme (40 + 13 kDa) in the endosomes/lysosomes. Secretion of hAC by either fibroblasts or acid ceramidase cDNA-transfected COS cells is extraordinarily low. Both lysosomal targeting and endocytosis critically depend on a functional mannose 6-phosphate receptor as judged by the following criteria: (i) hAC-precursor secretion by NH(4)Cl-treated fibroblasts and I-cell disease fibroblasts, (ii) inhibition of the formation of mature heterodimeric hAC in NH(4)Cl-treated fibroblasts or in I-cell disease fibroblasts, and (iii) blocked endocytosis of hAC precursor by mannose 6-phosphate receptor-deficient fibroblasts or the addition of mannose 6-phosphate. The influence of the six individual potential N-glycosylation sites of human acid ceramidase on targeting, processing, and catalytic activity was determined by site-directed mutagenesis. Five glycosylation sites (sites 1-5 from the N terminus) are used. The elimination of sites 2, 4, and 6 has no influence on lysosomal processing or enzymatic activity of recombinant ceramidase. The removal of sites 1, 3, and 5 inhibits the formation of the heterodimeric enzyme form. None of the mutant ceramidases gave rise to an increased rate of secretion, suggesting that lysosomal targeting does not depend on one single carbohydrate chain.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 10/2001; 276(38):35352-60. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Farber disease is a rare, autosomal recessively inherited sphingolipid storage disorder due to the deficient activity of lysosomal acid ceramidase, leading to the accumulation of ceramide in cells and tissues. Here we report the identification of six novel mutations in the acid ceramidase gene causing Farber disease: three point mutations resulting in single amino acid substitutions, one intronic splice site mutation resulting in exon skipping, and two point mutations also leading to occasional or complete exon skipping. Of interest, these latter two mutations occurred in adjacent nucleotides and led to abnormal splicing of the same exon. Expression of the mutated acid ceramidase cDNAs in COS-1 cells and subsequent determination of acid ceramidase residual enzyme activity demonstrated that each of these mutations was the direct cause of the acid ceramidase deficiency in the respective patients. In contrast, two known polymorphisms had no effect on acid ceramidase activity. Metabolic labeling studies in fibroblasts of four patients showed that even though acid ceramidase precursor protein was synthesized in these individuals, rapid proteolysis of the mutated, mature acid ceramidase occurred within the lysosome.
    Human Mutation 04/2001; 17(3):199-209. · 5.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ion fluxes and volume changes of the whole cell as well as of organelles belong to the hallmarks of apoptosis; however, the molecular mechanism regulating these changes is only poorly characterized. Several ion channels in the plasma membrane, in particular the N-type K(+) channel, the chloride channel cystic fibrosis conductance regulator, and an outward rectifying chloride channel, as well as the mitochondrial permeability transition pore, have been implicated to be involved in signal transduction cascades regulating apoptosis. Furthermore, Bcl-2-like proteins have been suggested to function, at least in part, as ion channels, because they display some homology to bacterial pore-forming toxins. In contrast to the demonstration of the involvement of these different ion channels in apoptosis, the molecular consequences regulated by these ion channels, and finally triggering apoptosis, are almost completely unknown.
    American journal of physiology. Renal physiology 11/2000; 279(4):F605-15. · 3.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) is reported to have an essential function in stress-induced apoptosis although the physiological function of ASM in receptor-triggered apoptosis is unknown. Here, we delineate a pivotal role for ASM in CD95-triggered apoptosis of peripheral lymphocytes or hepatocytes in vivo. We employed intravenous injection of anti-CD4 antibodies or phytohemagglutinin that was previously shown to result in apoptosis of peripheral blood lymphocytes or hepatocytes via the endogenous CD95/CD95 ligand system. Our results demonstrate a high susceptibility in normal mice whereas ASM knock-out mice fail to immunodeplete T cells or develop autoimmune-like hepatitis. Likewise, ASM-deficient mice or hepatocytes and splenocytes ex vivo manifest resistance to anti-CD95 treatment. These results provide in vivo evidence for an important physiological function of ASM in CD95-induced apoptosis.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 10/2000; 275(35):27316-23. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The interaction with human phagocytes is a hallmark of symptomatic Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections. Gonococcal outer membrane proteins of the Opa family induce the opsoninindependent uptake of the bacteria that relies on CEACAM receptors and an active signaling machinery of the phagocyte. Here, we show that CEACAM receptor-mediated phagocytosis of Opa52-expressing N. gonorrhoeae into human cells results in a rapid activation of the acid sphingomyelinase. Inhibition of this enzyme by imipramine or SR33557 abolishes opsonin-independent internalization without affecting bacterial adherence. Reconstitution of ceramide, the product of acid sphingomyelinase activity, in imipramine- or SR33557-treated cells restores internalization of the bacteria. Furthermore, we demonstrate that CEACAM receptor-initiated stimulation of other signalling molecules, in particular Src-like tyrosine kinases and Jun Nterminal kinases, requires acid sphingomyelinase. These studies provide evidence for a crucial role of the acid sphingomyelinase for CEACAM receptor-initiated signalling events and internalization of Opa52-expressing N. gonorrhoeae into human neutrophils.
    FEBS Letters 09/2000; · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this study we report that human platelets display neutral (nSMase) and acid sphingomyelinase (aSMase) as well as acid ceramidase (aCerase) activity. Cell activation by thrombin resulted in a marked decrease of intracellular aSMase activity, accompanied by the release of enzyme into the medium. In contrast, thrombin treatment did not affect aCerase activity. Two major protein bands of 73 and 70 kDa were recognized by aSMase antibodies in resting platelet lysates and in the medium of stimulated cells. Phorbol esters together with the calcium ionophore A23187 fully reproduced thrombin action on aSMase release. The secreted enzymatic activity was insensitive to digestion with endoglycosidase H but it was stimulated by Zn2+, although to a limited extent compared to aSMase constitutively released by murine endothelial cells. Taken together, these data suggest that secreted aSMase does not originate from the lysosomal compartment but rather from other platelet vesicles.
    Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry 01/2000; 205(1):75-81. · 2.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lysosomal breakdown of glycosphingolipids with short hydrophilic carbohydrate headgroups is achieved by the simultaneous action of specific hydrolases and sphingolipid activator proteins (SAPs). Activator proteins are considered to facilitate the enzyme/substrate interaction between water-soluble enzymes and membrane-bound substrates. Sphingomyelin, containing the small hydrophilic phosphorylcholine moiety, is hydrolysed by acid sphingomyelinase (acid SMase). Recent experimental data on the in vivo and in vitro role of activator proteins in sphingomyelin breakdown by acid SMase are reviewed. These data combined with the results using homogenous protein preparations as well as a liposomal assay system mimicking the physiological conditions suggest that lysosomal sphingomyelin degradation is not critically dependent on any of the known activator proteins. Moreover, evidence is provided that the assumed intramolecular activator domain of acid SMase and especially the presence of negatively charged lipids in the lysosomes are sufficient for sphingomyelin turnover.
    Chemistry and Physics of Lipids 12/1999; 102(1-2):35-43. · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Biochemical and structural studies on human acid sphingomyelinase (haSMase) depend on the access to homogeneous biologically active enzyme. Due to the low abundance of native haSMase (n-haSMase) in human tissue, conventional purification strategies are not suitable for the isolation of preparative amounts of the enzyme. We describe a novel approach to the functional expression and purification of haSMase employing the baculovirus expression vector system. Infection of Spodoptera frugiperda 21 cells with recombinant baculovirus encoding haSMase leads to the expression of a glycosylated 75 kDa precursor protein, which is subsequently processed to an enzymatically active secreted 72 kDa haSMase. Variations in N-glycosylation and proteolytic maturation account for the difference in molecular mass between mature recombinant (72 kDa) and human placental haSMase (75 kDa). N-terminal amino acid sequencing of recombinant haSMase (r-haSMase) reveals a 23-residue N-terminal extension compared to the placental enzyme. The apparent K(m) and Vmax values for sphingomyelin degradation by r-haSMase in a micellar assay system are 32 microM and 0.56 mmol h-1 mg-1, respectively. In conclusion, the established baculovirus expression vector system provides an efficient tool for the expression and functional characterization of haSMase.
    Journal of Biotechnology 08/1998; 63(1):29-40. · 3.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fas/CD95/Apo-I has been shown to stimulate a variety of molecules including several members of the caspase family and the acidic sphingomyelinase (Martin and Green 1995; Gulbins et al, 1995). Here, we demonstrate that Fas receptor-triggered activation of the acidic sphingomyelinase, consumption of sphingomyelin, release of ceramide, and subsequent activation of JNK and p38-K are regulated by caspases. Inhibition of caspases by Ac-YVAD-chloromethylketone or transient CrmA transfection prevented stimulation of acidic sphingomyelinase, release of ceramide and activation of JNK and p38-K upon Fas-receptor crosslinking. Likewise, Fas triggered apoptosis was almost completely blocked by Ac-YVAD-chloromethylketone or CrmA mediated inhibition of caspases. The results suggest a new signalling cascade from the Fas receptor via caspases to acidic sphingomyelinase, ceramide and JNK/p38-K.
    Cell Death and Differentiation 02/1998; 5(1):29-37. · 8.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Invasion of human mucosal cells by N. gonorrhoeae via the binding to heparansulfate proteoglycan receptors is considered a crucial event of the infection. Using different human epithelial cells and primary fibroblasts, we show here an activation of the phosphatidylcholine-specific phospholipase C (PC-PLC) and acidic sphingomyelinase (ASM) by N. gonorrhoeae, resulting in the release of diacylglycerol and ceramide. Genetic and/or pharmacological blockade of ASM and PC-PLC cause inhibition of cellular invasion by N. gonorrhoeae. Complementation of ASM-deficient fibroblasts from Niemann-Pick disease patients restored N. gonorrhoeae-induced signaling and entry processes. The activation of PC-PLC and ASM, therefore, is an essential requirement for the entry of N. gonorrhoeae into distinct nonphagocytic human cell types including several epithelial cells and primary fibroblasts.
    Cell 12/1997; 91(5):605-15. · 31.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Most soluble lysosomal enzymes require a mannose-6-phosphate recognition marker present on asparagine-linked oligosaccharides for proper targeting to lysosomes. We have determined the influence of the six potential N-linked oligosaccharide chains of human acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) on catalytic activity, targeting, and processing of the enzyme. Each N-glycosylation site was modified by site-directed mutagenesis and subsequently expressed in COS-1 cells. Evidence is presented that five of these sites are used. Elimination of the four N-terminal glycosylation sites does not disturb lysosomal targeting, processing, or enzymatic activity. However, removal of the two C-terminal N-glycosylation sites inhibits the formation of mature enzyme. Absence of glycosylation site five resulted in rapid cleavage of the primary translation product to an enzymatically inactive protein which accumulated inside the endoplasmic reticulum/Golgi, whereas deletion of glycosylation site six led to the formation of an inactive ASM precursor, also retained inside the endoplasmic reticulum/Golgi. Our results also provide evidence that the site of early proteolytic cleavage of newly synthesized ASM must be located between the second and third glycosylation sites.
    European Journal of Biochemistry 02/1997; 243(1-2):511-7. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human placental acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) was purified by sequential chromatography on Con A-Sepharose, octyl-Sepharose and Matrex gel red A. Final purification to apparent homogeneity was achieved by immunoaffinity chromatography employing polyclonal anti-ASM antibodies. The antibodies also allowed specific detection of ASM by Western blotting at various stages of purification. The ASM activity was enriched about 110,000-fold over that of the crude extract, yielding an enzyme preparation with a specific activity of about 1 mmol/h per mg protein in a detergent-containing assay system. Analysis of the final preparation by SDS-PAGE resulted in a single protein band with a molecular mass of approximately 75 kDa, which was reduced to approximately 60 kDa after complete deglycosylation. Microsequencing of the purified ASM revealed the N-terminal amino acid sequence of the mature placental enzyme.
    FEBS Letters 01/1997; 399(3):227-31. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Most soluble lysosomal enzymes require a mannose-6-phosphate recognition marker present on asparagine-linked oligosaccharides for proper targeting to lysosomes. We have determined the influence of the six potential N-linked oligosaccharide chains of human acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) on catalytic activity, targeting, and processing of the enzyme. Each N-glycosylation site was modified by site-directed mutagenesis and subsequently expressed in COS-1 cells. Evidence is presented that five of these sites are used. Elimination of the four N-terminal glycosylation sites does not disturb lysosomal targeting, processing, or enzymatic activity. However, removal of the two C-terminal N-glycosylation sites inhibits the formation of mature enzyme. Absence of glycosylation site five resulted in rapid cleavage of the primary translation product to an enzymatically inactive protein which accumulated inside the endoplasmic reticulum/Golgi, whereas deletion of glycosylation site six led to the formation of an inactive ASM precursor, also retained inside the endoplasmic reticulum/Golgi. Our results also provide evidence that the site of early proteolytic cleavage of newly synthesized ASM must be located between the second and third glycosylation sites.
    European Journal of Biochemistry. 12/1996; 243(1‐2):511 - 517.
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    ABSTRACT: Types A and B Niemann-Pick disease (NPD) result from the deficient activity of acid sphingomyelinase (ASM). An animal model of NPD has been created by gene targeting. In affected animals, the disease followed a severe, neurodegenerative course and death occurred by eight months of age. Analysis of these animals showed their tissues had no detectable ASM activity, the blood cholesterol levels and sphingomyelin in the liver and brain were elevated, and atrophy of the cerebellum and marked deficiency of Purkinje cells was evident. Microscopic analysis revealed 'NPD cells' in reticuloendothelial organs and characteristic NPD lesions in the brain. Thus, the ASM deficient mice should be of great value for studying the pathogenesis and treatment of NPD, and for investigations into the role of ASM in signal transduction and apoptosis.
    Nature Genetics 08/1995; 10(3):288-93. · 35.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Acid ceramidase (N-acylsphingosine deacylase, EC 3.5.1.23) is the lysosomal enzyme catalyzing the hydrolysis of ceramide to sphingosine and free fatty acid. Its inherited deficiency causes ceramide accumulation in Farber's disease. The enzyme was purified to apparent homogeneity from human urine by sequential chromatography on octyl-Sepharose, concanavalin A-Sepharose, blue-Sepharose, and DEAE-cellulose. The final preparation, which was enriched approximately 4450-fold over the starting material, resulted in a polypeptide of approximately 50 kDa and could be reduced into two subunits of approximately 13 (alpha) and approximately 40 (beta) kDa. Treatment of the purified enzyme with endoglycosidase H or peptido-N-glycanase F reduced the molecular mass of the beta subunit to approximately 30-35 and approximately 27 kDa, respectively. In contrast, the molecular mass of the alpha subunit was unchanged. The purified enzyme had an apparent Km of 149 microM and a Vmax of 136 nmol/mg/h using N-lauroylsphingosine as substrate. Polyclonal antibodies were raised against the purified urinary enzyme and used to investigate the biosynthesis of acid ceramidase. Immunoprecipitation studies on metabolically labeled skin fibroblasts indicated that both subunits arose from a single precursor of approximately 55 kDa. A minor portion of newly synthesized acid ceramidase was secreted into the medium as a monomeric 47-kDa protein, indicating that generation of the mature heterodimeric enzyme occurred in endosomal and/or lysosomal compartments.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 06/1995; 270(19):11098-102. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A novel point mutation in the lysosomal acid sphingomyelinase gene has been identified in the recently reported Serbian family with a clinically and biochemically atypical intermediate form of Niemann-Pick disease. The mutation was a T1171-->G transversion resulting in substitution of glycine for normal tryptophan at amino acid residue 391. The coding sequence was otherwise normal. All of the five affected individuals were almost certainly homoallelic, and both of the two obligate heterozygotes studied also carried the same mutation. This mutation is therefore likely to be directly associated with the atypical phenotype of these patients. Expression in COS-1 cells suggested a higher residual activity than that in cultured fibroblasts. A recently developed high-affinity rabbit antihuman sphingomyelinase antibody allowed us to study for the first time the biosynthesis, processing, and targeting of a mutant sphingomyelinase by metabolic labeling of cultured fibroblasts. The mutant enzyme protein was normally synthesized, processed, and routed to the lysosome but was apparently unstable and degraded rapidly once it reached the lysosome. Together with the finding of the relatively high residual activity in COS-1 cells, we interpret our observations to mean that instability and rapid breakdown of the mature mutant enzyme protein, due to the mutation rather than direct inactivation of the catalytic activity, is the primary mechanism for the deficiency of sphingomyelinase activity in these patients. A high prevalence of this mutation in the Serbian population is likely, since the family pedigree indicates that members from four reportedly unrelated families must have contributed the same mutation.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 06/1995; 56(6):1343-9. · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) hydrolyses sphingomyelin to ceramide and phosphocholine. Metabolic studies on COS-1 cells transfected with ASM cDNA revealed the occurrence of an enzymically inactive precursor which is differentially processed to two predominant native glycoprotein forms: a 70 kDa polypeptide corresponding to human urinary protein and a 57 kDa form. Formation of these potentially active forms was shown to be restricted to distinct compartments. Maturation of the ASM precursor to a predominant 70 kDa form occurs exclusively inside acidic organelles, whereas variable amounts of 57 kDa ASM are detectable immediately after biosynthesis. Metabolic labelling of transfected COS-1 cells with [32P]Pi further suggests that this form obviously does not carry oligomannosylphosphate residues, in contrast with the mature lysosomal ASM. In order to verify that this early form of active ASM results from co-post-translational proteolysis of the ASM precursor and not from the use of different translation-initiation sites on the ASM mRNA, appropriate 5'-mutagenized cDNA constructs were transiently expressed. These results clearly indicate that the first potential in-frame AUG is exclusively used for translation initiation in vivo and that deletion of the proposed signal sequence for endoplasmic reticulum import completely eliminates the ability of the translation product to enter the vacuolar apparatus. As there are two different subcellular sites of maturation of the ASM precursor, and intracellular targeting of the two processed forms appears to be different, the two ASM proteins may contribute to distinct physiological functions.
    Biochemical Journal 09/1994; 301 ( Pt 3):855-62. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • R Hurwitz, K Ferlinz, K Sandhoff
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    ABSTRACT: The effect of the tricyclic antidepressant desipramine on the processing of lysosomal sphingomyelinase (EC 3.1.4.12) was investigated by pulse-chase studies on [35S]methionine labeled cultured human skin fibroblasts. Desipramine induced rapid intracellular degradation of mature acid sphingomyelinase when added to the cells in the micromolar range, concomitantly abolishing the enzyme activity. Pulse chase labeling revealed the disappearance of mature enzyme forms when fibroblasts were treated with 25 microM desipramine. Incubation of cells with 25 microM leupeptin, an inhibitor of thiol proteases, 24 h prior to desipramine intoxication prevented this drug-induced effect. From these results we conclude that desipramine and possibly also similarly acting tricyclic antidepressants induce proteolytic degradation of acid sphingomyelinase.
    Biological chemistry Hoppe-Seyler 08/1994; 375(7):447-50. · 2.68 Impact Factor