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

Identification and characterization of a sphingolipid delta 4-desaturase family.

Sphingolipids desaturated at the Delta4-position are important signaling molecules in many eukaryotic organisms, including mammals. In a bioinformatics approach, we now identified a new family of protein sequences from animals, plants, and fungi and characterized these sequences biochemically by expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This resulted in the identification of the enzyme sphingolipid Delta4-desaturase (dihydroceramide desaturase) from Homo sapiens, Mus musculus, Drosophila melanogaster, and Candida albicans, in addition to a bifunctional sphingolipid Delta4-desaturase/C-4-hydroxylase from M. musculus. Among the sequences investigated are the Homo sapiens membrane lipid desaturase, the M. musculus degenerative spermatocyte, and the Drosophila melanogaster degenerative spermatocyte proteins. During spermatogenesis, but not oogenesis of des mutant flies, both cell cycle and spermatid differentiation are specifically blocked at the entry into the first meiotic division, leading to male sterility. This mutant phenotype can be restored to wild-type by complementation with a functional copy of the des gene (Endo, K., Akiyama, T., Kobayashi S., and Okada, M. (1996) Mol. Gen. Genet. 253, 157-165). These results suggest that Delta4-desaturated sphingolipids provide an early signal necessary to trigger the entry into both meiotic and spermatid differentiation pathways during Drosophila spermatogenesis.[1]


  1. Identification and characterization of a sphingolipid delta 4-desaturase family. Ternes, P., Franke, S., Zähringer, U., Sperling, P., Heinz, E. J. Biol. Chem. (2002) [Pubmed]
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