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J Biol Chem. 2007 Apr 20;282(16):12330-40. Epub 2007 Feb 23.

Selective substrate supply in the regulation of yeast de novo sphingolipid synthesis.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical University of South Carolina , Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.


The heat stress response of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is characterized by transient cell cycle arrest, altered gene expression, degradation of nutrient permeases, trehalose accumulation, and translation initiation of heat shock proteins. Importantly heat stress also induces de novo sphingolipid synthesis upon which many of these subprograms of the heat stress response depend. Despite extensive data addressing the roles for sphingolipids in heat stress, the mechanism(s) by which heat induces sphingolipid synthesis remains unknown. This study was undertaken to determine the events and/or factors required for heat stress-induced sphingolipid synthesis. Data presented indicate that heat does not directly alter the in vitro activity of serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT), the enzyme responsible for initiating de novo sphingolipid synthesis. Moreover deletion of the small peptide Tsc3p, which is thought to maximize SPT activity, specifically reduced production of C(20) sphingolipid species by over 70% but did not significantly decrease overall sphingoid base production. In contrast, the fatty-acid synthase inhibitor cerulenin nearly completely blocked sphingoid base production after heat, indicating a requirement for endogenous fatty acids for heat-mediated sphingoid base synthesis. Consistent with this, genetic studies show that fatty acid import does not contribute to heat-induced de novo synthesis under normal conditions. Interestingly the absence of medium serine also ameliorated heat-induced sphingoid base production, indicating a requirement for exogenous serine for the response, and consistent with this finding, disruption of synthesis of endogenous serine did not affect heat-induced sphingolipid synthesis. Serine uptake assays indicated that heat increased serine uptake from medium by 100% during the first 10 min of heat stress. Moreover treatments that increase serine uptake in the absence of heat including acute medium acidification and glucose treatment also enhanced de novo sphingoid base synthesis equivalent to that induced by heat stress. These data agree with findings from mammalian systems that availability of substrates is a key determinant of flux through sphingolipid synthesis. Moreover data presented here indicate that SPT activity can be driven by several factors that increase serine uptake in the absence of heat. These findings may provide insights into the many systems in which de novo synthesis is increased in the absence of elevated in vitro SPT activity.

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