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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Molecular cloning, characterization, and expression of a novel human neutral sphingomyelinase.

Neutral sphingomyelinase (N-SMase) has emerged as an important cell membrane- associated enzyme that participates in several signal transduction and cell regulatory phenomena. Using expression cloning, we have identified a 3.7-kilobase pair cDNA transcript for N-SMase whose open reading frame predicts a 397-amino acid polypeptide. Transfection of COS-7 cells with cDNA for N-SMase resulted in a marked increase in N-SMase activity. Recombinant N-SMase (r-N-SMase) had the following physical-chemical properties. Mg(2+) activated and Cu(2+) and glutathione inhibited the activity of r-N-SMase. In contrast, dithiothreitol did not alter the activity of the enzyme. Of several phospholipids examined, sphingomyelin was the preferred substrate for r-N-SMase. The apparent molecular mass of r-N-SMase derived from COS-7 cells was approximately 90 kDa, similar to the native neutral sphingomyelinase prepared from human urine. However, upon expression in Escherichia coli, the apparent molecular mass of the recombinant enzyme was approximately 45 kDa. We speculate that this apparent difference in recombinant enzymes derived from COS-7 and E. coli cells may be due to extensive post-transcriptional changes. r-N-SMase has numerous post-transcriptional modification sites such as phosphorylation sites via protein kinase C, casein kinase II, tyrosine kinase, and cAMP- and cGMP-dependent protein kinases as well as sites for glycosylation and myristoylation. Amino acid sequence alignment studies revealed that r-N-SMase has some similarity to acid sphingomyelinase and significant homology to the death domains of tumor necrosis factor-alpha receptor-1 and Fas/Apo-I. We believe that the molecular cloning and characterization of N-SMase cDNA will accelerate the process to define its role as a key regulator in apoptosis, lipid and lipoprotein metabolism, and other cell regulatory pathways.[1]


  1. Molecular cloning, characterization, and expression of a novel human neutral sphingomyelinase. Chatterjee, S., Han, H., Rollins, S., Cleveland, T. J. Biol. Chem. (1999) [Pubmed]
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