Stress-induced ceramide generation and apoptosis via the phosphorylation and activation of nSMase1 by JNK signaling

T. Yabu, H. Shiba, Y. Shibasaki, T. Nakanishi, S. Imamura, K. Touhata, M. Yamashita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Neutral sphingomyelinase (nSMase) activation in response to environmental stress or inflammatory cytokine stimuli generates the second messenger ceramide, which mediates the stress-induced apoptosis. However, the signaling pathways and activation mechanism underlying this process have yet to be elucidated. Here we show that the phosphorylation of nSMase1 (sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase 2, SMPD2) by c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling stimulates ceramide generation and apoptosis and provide evidence for a signaling mechanism that integrates stress-and cytokine-activated apoptosis in vertebrate cells. An nSMase1 was identified as a JNK substrate, and the phosphorylation site responsible for its effects on stress and cytokine induction was Ser-270. In zebrafish cells, the substitution of Ser-270 for alanine blocked the phosphorylation and activation of nSMase1, whereas the substitution of Ser-270 for negatively charged glutamic acid mimicked the effect of phosphorylation. The JNK inhibitor SP600125 blocked the phosphorylation and activation of nSMase1, which in turn blocked ceramide signaling and apoptosis. A variety of stress conditions, including heat shock, UV exposure, hydrogen peroxide treatment, and anti-Fas antibody stimulation, led to the phosphorylation of nSMase1, activated nSMase1, and induced ceramide generation and apoptosis in zebrafish embryonic ZE and human Jurkat T cells. In addition, the depletion of MAPK8/9 or SMPD2 by RNAi knockdown decreased ceramide generation and stress-and cytokine-induced apoptosis in Jurkat cells. Therefore the phosphorylation of nSMase1 is a pivotal step in JNK signaling, which leads to ceramide generation and apoptosis under stress conditions and in response to cytokine stimulation. nSMase1 has a common central role in ceramide signaling during the stress and cytokine responses and apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-273
Number of pages16
JournalCell Death and Differentiation
Volume22
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015

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