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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 29;276(26):23954-61. Epub 2001 Apr 3.

Ceramide enables fas to cap and kill.

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  • 1Laboratory of Signal Transduction and Department of Radiation Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Recent studies suggest that trimerization of Fas is insufficient for apoptosis induction and indicate that super-aggregation of trimerized Fas might be prerequisite. For many cell surface receptors, cross-linking by multivalent ligands or antibodies induces their lateral segregation within the plasma membrane and co-localization into "caps" on one pole of the cell. In this study, we show that capping of Fas is essential for optimal function and that capping is ceramide-dependent. In Jurkat T lymphocytes and in primary cultures of hepatocytes, ceramide elevation was detected as early as 15-30 s and peaked at 1 min after CH-11 and Jo2 anti-Fas antibody treatment, respectively. Capping was detected 30 s after Fas ligation, peaked at 2 min, and was maintained at a lower level for as long as 30 min in both cell types. Ceramide generation appeared essential for capping. Acid sphingomyelinase -/- hepatocytes were defective in Jo2-induced ceramide generation, capping, and apoptosis, and nanomolar concentrations of C(16)-ceramide restored these events. To further explore the role of ceramide in capping of Fas, we employed FLAG-tagged soluble Fas ligand (sFasL), which binds trimerized Fas but is unable to induce capping or apoptosis in Jurkat cells. Cross-linking of sFasL with M2 anti-FLAG antibody induced both events. Pretreatment of cells with natural C(16)-ceramide bypassed the necessity for forced antibody cross-linking and enabled sFasL to cap and kill. The presence of intact sphingolipid-enriched membrane domains may be essential for Fas capping since their disruption with cholesterol-depleting agents abrogated capping and prevented apoptosis. These data suggest that capping is a ceramide-dependent event required for optimal Fas signaling in some cells.

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