Fenretinide increases dihydroceramide and dihydrosphingolipids due to inhibition of dihydroceramide desaturase.

by Zheng, Wenjing

Abstract (Summary)
N-(4-Hydroxyphenyl) retinamide (4-HPR) is a derivative of all-trans-retinoic acid that induces apoptosis in cancer cell lines and is being tested in clinical trials as a relatively non-toxic anti-cancer agent. 4-HPR induces de novo sphingolipid biosynthesis and production of ceramide has been suggested to contribute to the growth arrest and apoptosis. To characterize the types of ceramides that might be involved, we used liquid chromatography, electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (LC ESI-MS/MS) to analyze the sphingolipids, and found that 4-HPR increased total sphingolipid amounts, but unexpectedly, ceramides (i.e., N-acylsphingosines) changed very little, and in some cases decreased. Instead, dihydroceramides (i.e., N-acylsphinganines) increased as much as 10-fold, both as the free species and as the backbones of dihydrosphingomyelins and dihydrohexosylceramides. To determine if 4-HPR inhibits dihydroceramide desaturase, we synthesized NBD-dihydroceramide and treated Hek293 cells with 4-HPR and analyzed the metabolites by HPLC. These analyses showed that NBD-dihydroceramide was taken up by the cells and converted to NBD-ceramides and more complex NBD-sphingolipids in control cells, however, within one hour of treatment with 10 μM 4-HPR, the production of NBD-ceramide was blocked. In vitro assays of the desaturase using NBD-dihydroceramide also showed rapid and complete inhibition by 4-HPR. Interestingly, when Hek cells were treated with 4-HPR for one hour then the medium was changed, the recovery of dihydroceramide desaturase activity was very slow (i.e., t1/2 > 66 h); therefore, either 4-HPR is difficult to remove from cells or the inhibition is essentially irreversible. These findings establish that 4-HPR not only induces de novo sphingolipid biosynthesis but also inhibits dihydroceramide desaturase, resulting in production of abnormally high proportions of sphingolipids with dihydroceramide as the backbone. This raises the possibility that some of the effects of 4-HPR on cell behavior may be due to the presence of these abnormal species.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Alfred H. Merrill, Jr.; Marion B. Sewer; Eva K. Lee

School:Georgia Institute of Technology

School Location:USA - Georgia

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:07/11/2006

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