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Exp Cell Res. 2008 May 1;314(8):1860-8. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2008.02.008. Epub 2008 Feb 29.

Suppression of sphingomyelin synthase 1 by small interference RNA is associated with enhanced ceramide production and apoptosis after photodamage.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201, USA. <>


We have shown that overexpression of SMS1, an enzyme that converts de novo ceramide into sphingomyelin, is accompanied by attenuated ceramide response and apoptotic resistance after photodamage with the photosensitizer Pc 4 (photodynamic therapy; PDT). To test whether SMS1 overexpression-related effects after PDT can be reversed, in this study SMS1 was downregulated in Jurkat T lymphoma/leukemia cells using small inhibitory RNA (siRNA) for SMS1. Compared to scrambled (control) siRNA-transfectants, in SMS1 siRNA-transfected cells the activity of SMS at rest was downregulated with concomitant decrease in sphingomyelin mass. In SMS1 siRNA-transfected cells increases in ceramides were higher than in control siRNA-transfectants after PDT. Similar findings were obtained for dihydroceramides suggesting the involvement of de novo ceramide pathway. PDT-induced DEVDase (caspase-3-like) activation was enhanced in SMS1 siRNA-transfected cells compared to their control counterparts. The data show that RNA interference-dependent downregulation of SMS1 is associated with increased accumulation of ceramide and dihydroceramide with concomitant sensitization of cells to apoptosis after photodamage. Similarly, in SMS2 siRNA-transfected cells, downregulation of SMS activity was accompanied by potentiated DEVDase activation post-photodamage. These findings suggest that SMS is a potential novel molecular target that can augment therapeutic efficacy of PDT.

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