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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Jun 1;1734(3):220-34.

Molecular mechanisms and regulation of ceramide transport.

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Atlantic Research Centre, Dalhousie University, 5849 University Avenue, Halifax, N.S., Canada B3H 4H7.


De novo biosynthesis of sphingolipids begins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and continues in the Golgi apparatus and plasma membrane. A crucial step in sphingolipid biosynthesis is the transport of ceramide by vesicular and non-vesicular mechanisms from its site of synthesis in the ER to the Golgi apparatus. The recent discovery of the ceramide transport protein CERT has revealed a novel pathway for the delivery of ceramide to the Golgi apparatus for sphingomyelin (SM) synthesis. In addition to a ceramide-binding START domain, CERT has FFAT (referring to two phenylalanines [FF] in an acidic tract) and pleckstrin homology (PH) domains that recognize the ER integral membrane protein VAMP-associated protein (VAP) and Golgi-associated PtdIns 4-phosphate, respectively. Mechanisms for vectorial transport involving dual-organellar targeting and sites of deposition of ceramide in the Golgi apparatus are proposed. Similar Golgi-ER targeting motifs are also present in the oxysterol-binding protein (OSBP), which regulates ceramide transport and SM synthesis in an oxysterol-dependent manner. Consequently, this emerges as a potential mechanism for integration of sphingolipid and cholesterol metabolism. The identification of organellar targeting motifs in other related lipid-binding/transport proteins indicate that concepts learned from the study of ceramide transport can be applied to other lipid transport processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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