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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Apr;1791(4):263-72. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2009.01.023. Epub 2009 Feb 7.

Ceramide 1-phosphate inhibits serine palmitoyltransferase and blocks apoptosis in alveolar macrophages.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of the Basque Country, 48080 Bilbao, Spain.


We previously reported that incubation of bone-marrow derived macrophages in the absence of macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF), a cytokine that is essential for their growth and survival, resulted in stimulation of acid sphingomyelinase, accumulation of ceramides, and induction of apoptosis [A. Gomez-Munoz et al. 2004. Ceramide 1-phosphate blocks apoptosis through inhibition of acid sphingomyelinase in macrophages. J Lipid Res 45: 99-105]. Here, we show that alveolar NR8383 macrophages, which are not dependent on M-CSF for viability, undergo apoptosis when they are incubated in the absence of serum. NR8383 cells showed increased levels of ceramides under apoptotic conditions, but in contrast to bone marrow macrophage acid and neutral sphingomyelinases were only slightly activated. We found that the major mechanism for ceramide generation in NR8383 macrophages was stimulation of their synthesis de novo. This action involved activation of serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT), the key regulatory enzyme of this pathway. A relevant finding was that ceramide 1-phosphate (C1P) inhibited SPT activity and ceramide accumulation leading to inhibition of apoptosis. Furthermore, C1P enhanced the activity of antiapoptotic protein kinase B and its downstream effector nuclear factor kappa B. These observations add a new dimension to the understanding of the pro-survival actions of C1P in mammalian cells.

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