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

Ceramide-mediated macroautophagy involves inhibition of protein kinase B and up-regulation of beclin 1.

The sphingolipid ceramide is involved in the cellular stress response. Here we demonstrate that ceramide controls macroautophagy, a major lysosomal catabolic pathway. Exogenous C(2)-ceramide stimulates macroautophagy (proteolysis and accumulation of autophagic vacuoles) in the human colon cancer HT-29 cells by increasing the endogenous pool of long chain ceramides as demonstrated by the use of the ceramide synthase inhibitor fumonisin B(1). Ceramide reverted the interleukin 13-dependent inhibition of macroautophagy by interfering with the activation of protein kinase B. In addition, C(2)-ceramide stimulated the expression of the autophagy gene product beclin 1. Ceramide is also the mediator of the tamoxifen-dependent accumulation of autophagic vacuoles in the human breast cancer MCF-7 cells. Monodansylcadaverine staining and electron microscopy showed that this accumulation was abrogated by myriocin, an inhibitor of de novo synthesis ceramide. The tamoxifen-dependent accumulation of vacuoles was mimicked by 1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol, an inhibitor of glucosylceramide synthase. 1-Phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol, tamoxifen, and C(2)-ceramide stimulated the expression of beclin 1, whereas myriocin antagonized the tamoxifen-dependent up-regulation. Tamoxifen and C(2)-ceramide interfere with the activation of protein kinase B, whereas myriocin relieved the inhibitory effect of tamoxifen. In conclusion, the control of macroautophagy by ceramide provides a novel function for this lipid mediator in a cell process with major biological outcomes.[1]


  1. Ceramide-mediated macroautophagy involves inhibition of protein kinase B and up-regulation of beclin 1. Scarlatti, F., Bauvy, C., Ventruti, A., Sala, G., Cluzeaud, F., Vandewalle, A., Ghidoni, R., Codogno, P. J. Biol. Chem. (2004) [Pubmed]
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