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J Biol Chem. 2012 Dec 7;287(50):41888-902. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.413500. Epub 2012 Oct 16.

Ablation of neuronal ceramide synthase 1 in mice decreases ganglioside levels and expression of myelin-associated glycoprotein in oligodendrocytes.

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  • 1Molecular Genetics, University of Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany.


Ceramide synthase 1 (CerS1) catalyzes the synthesis of C18 ceramide and is mainly expressed in the brain. Custom-made antibodies to a peptide from the C-terminal region of the mouse CerS1 protein yielded specific immunosignals in neurons but no other cell types of wild type brain, but the CerS1 protein was not detected in CerS1-deficient mouse brains. To elucidate the biological function of CerS1-derived sphingolipids in the brain, we generated CerS1-deficient mice by introducing a targeted mutation into the coding region of the cers1 gene. General deficiency of CerS1 in mice caused a foliation defect, progressive shrinkage, and neuronal apoptosis in the cerebellum. Mass spectrometric analyses revealed up to 60% decreased levels of gangliosides in cerebellum and forebrain. Expression of myelin-associated glycoprotein was also decreased by about 60% in cerebellum and forebrain, suggesting that interaction and stabilization of oligodendrocytic myelin-associated glycoprotein by neuronal gangliosides is due to the C18 acyl membrane anchor of CerS1-derived precursor ceramides. A behavioral analysis of CerS1-deficient mice yielded functional deficits including impaired exploration of novel objects, locomotion, and motor coordination. Our results reveal an essential function of CerS1-derived ceramide in the regulation of cerebellar development and neurodevelopmentally regulated behavior.

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