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J Biol Chem. 2001 Sep 21;276(38):35352-60. Epub 2001 Jul 12.

Human acid ceramidase: processing, glycosylation, and lysosomal targeting.

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  • 1Institute of Physiology 1, University of Tübingen, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


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.

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