Does Ceramide Form Channels? The Ceramide-Induced Membrane Permeabilization Mechanism
Ceramide is a sphingolipid involved in several cellular processes, including apoptosis. It has been proposed that ceramide forms large and stable channels in the mitochondrial outer membrane that induce cell death through direct release of cytochrome c. However, this mechanism is still debated because the membrane permeabilizing activity of ceramide remains poorly understood. To determine whether the mechanism of ceramide-induced membrane leakage is consistent with the hypothesis of an apoptotic ceramide channel, we have used here assays of calcein release from liposomes. When assaying liposomes containing sphingomyelin and cholesterol, we observed an overall gradual phenomenon of contents release, together with some all-or-none leakage (at low ceramide concentrations or short times). The presence of channels in the bilayer should cause only an all-or-none leakage. When liposomes poor in sphingomyelin/cholesterol or mimicking the lipid composition of the mitochondrial outer membrane were tested, we did not detect any leakage. In consequence, the hypothesis of formation of large ceramide channels in the membrane is not consistent with our results. Instead we propose that the presence of ceramide in one of the membrane monolayers causes a surface area mismatch between both monolayers, which leads to vesicle collapse. The gradual phenomenon of calcein release would be due to a competition between two ceramide effects; namely, lateral segregation that facilitates permeabilization, and at longer times, trans-bilayer flip-flop that opposes asymmetric lateral segregation and causes a mismatch.
Publisher URL: http://www.cell.com/biophysj/fulltext/S0006-3495(17)30803-2
Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.
Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.