Ceramides modulate protein kinase C activity and perturb the structure of Phosphatidylcholine/Phosphatidylserine bilayers.Biophys J. 1999 Sep; 77(3):1489-97.BJ
We studied the effects of natural ceramide and a series of ceramide analogs with different acyl chain lengths on the activity of rat brain protein kinase C (PKC) and on the structure of bovine liver phosphatidylcholine (BLPC)/dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC)/dipalmitoylphosphatidylserine (DPPS) (3:1:1 molar ratio) bilayers using (2)H-NMR and specific enzymatic assays in the absence or presence of 7.5 mol % diolein (DO). Only a slight activation of PKC was observed upon addition of the short-chain ceramide analogs (C(2)-, C(6)-, or C(8)-ceramide); natural ceramide or C(16)-ceramide had no effect. In the presence of 7.5 mol % DO, natural ceramide and C(16)-ceramide analog slightly attenuated DO-enhanced PKC activity. (2)H-NMR results demonstrated that natural ceramide and C(16)-ceramide induced lateral phase separation of gel-like and liquid crystalline domains in the bilayers; however, this type of membrane perturbation has no direct effect on PKC activity. The addition of both short-chain ceramide analogs and DO had a synergistic effect in activating PKC, with maximum activity observed with 20 mol % C(6)-ceramide and 15 mol % DO. Further increases in C(6)-ceramide and/or DO concentrations led to decreased PKC activity. A detailed (2)H-NMR investigation of the combined effects of C(6)-ceramide and DO on lipid bilayer structure showed a synergistic effect of these two reagents to increase membrane tendency to adopt nonbilayer structures, resulting in the actual presence of such structures in samples exceeding 20 mol % ceramide and 15 mol % DO. Thus, the increased tendency to form nonbilayer lipid phases correlates with increased PKC activity, whereas the actual presence of such phases reduced the activity of the enzyme. Moreover, the results show that short-chain ceramide analogs, widely used to study cellular effects of ceramide, have biological effects that are not exhibited by natural ceramide.