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J Biol Chem. 1995 May 26;270(21):12677-84.

Purification and biochemical characterization of membrane-bound epidermal ceramidases from guinea pig skin.

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  • 1Institute for Fundamental Research, Kao Corporation, Tochigi, Japan.


Ceramidase (CDase) catalyzes the hydrolysis of ceramides to yield sphingosine and fatty acid. In this paper, two forms of membrane-bound alkaline ceramidase, have been, for the first time, purified from guinea pig epidermis by chromatography on DEAE-cellulose, phenyl-Superose, HCA-hyroxyapatite, isoelectric focusing, Mono Q, and TSK-3000SW column. One species (CDase-I) migrated upon SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis as a single band with an apparent molecular mass of 60 kDa; the other (CDase-II) was only partially purified with apparent M(r) of about 148,000 estimated by gel filtration. The specific activities of the two species increased by 1.130- (for CDase-I) and 400-fold (for CDase-II) over the original tissue extract. The activity of both enzymes for ceramide species decreased in the order of linoleoyl > oleoyl > palmitoylsphingosine. The optimal pH for enzyme activity was approximately 7.0-9.0 for CDase-I and 7.5-8.5 for CDase-II. Interestingly, both enzymes were inhibited by the reaction product sphingosine with a concentration for half-maximal inhibition (ID50) of 100-130 microM, compared to the apparent kinetic parameters with CDase-I (Km = 90 microM, Vmax = 0.62 unit) and CDase-II (Km = 140 microM, Vmax = 0.50 units). Some lipids, such as phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, are also inhibitory with IC50 values of 50-250 microM, suggesting well controlled CDase activity by sphingolipid metabolites. These studies begin to elucidate a regulatory mechanism for the balance of the ratio of ceramide/sphingosine which can serve as an intracellular effector molecule in epidermis.

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