Purification and characterization of human intestinal neutral ceramidase.

Lena Ohlsson, Carina Palmberg, Rui-Dong Duan, Maria Olsson, Tomas Bergman, Åke Nilsson

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30 Citations (SciVal)


Sphingolipids are degraded by sphingomyelinase and ceramidase in the gut to ceramide and sphingosine, which may inhibit cell proliferation and induce apoptosis, and thus have anti-tumour effects in the gut. Although previous rodent studies including experiments on knockout mice indicate a role of neutral ceramidase in ceramide digestion, the human enzyme has never been purified and characterized in its purified form. We here report the purification and characterization of neutral ceramidase from human ileostomy content, using octanoyl-[C-14] sphingosine as substrate. After four chromatographic steps, a homogeneous protein band with 116 kDa was obtained. MALDI mass spectrometry identified 16 peptide masses similar to human ceramidase previously cloned by El Bawab et al. [Molecular cloning and characterization of a human mitochondrial ceramidase, J. Biol. Chem. 275 (2000) 21508-21513] and Hwang et al. [Subcellular localization of human neutral ceramidase expressed in HEK293 cells, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 331 (2005) 37-42]. By RT-PCR and 5'-RACE methods, a predicted partial nucleotide sequence of neutral ceramidase was obtained from a human duodenum biopsy sample, which was homologous to that of known neutral/alkaline ceramidases. The enzyme has neutral pH optimum and catalyses both hydrolysis and formation of ceramide without distinct bile salt dependence. It is inhibited by Cu2+ and Zn2+ ions and by low concentrations of cholesterol. The enzyme is a glycoprotein but deglycosylation does not affect its activity. Our study indicates that neutral ceramidase is expressed in human intestine, released in the intestinal lumen and plays a major role in ceramide metabolism in the human gut. (c) 2007 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)950-960
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


  • cholesterol proteomics
  • intestine
  • neutral ceramidase
  • human
  • mass spectrometry


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