Membrane organization and ionization behavior of the minor but crucial lipid ceramide-1-phosphate

E.E. Kooijman, J. Slot, L.-R. Montes, A. Alonso, A. Gericke, B. de Kruijff, S. Kumar, F.M. Goñi

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Ceramide-1-phosphate (Cer-1-P), one of the simplest of all sphingophospholipids, occurs in minor amounts in biological membranes. Yet recent evidence suggests important roles of this lipid as a novel second messenger with crucial tasks in cell survival and inflammatory responses. We present a detailed description of the physical chemistry of this hitherto little explored membrane lipid. At full hydration Cer-1-P forms a highly organized subgel (crystalline) bilayer phase (Lc) at low temperature, which transforms into a regular gel phase (L) at 45C, with the gel to fluid phase transition (LL) occurring at 65C. When incorporated at 5mol % in a phosphatidylcholine bilayer, the pKa2 of Cer-1-P, 7.390.03, lies within the physiological pH range. Inclusion of phosphatidylethanolamine in the phosphatidylcholine bilayer, at equimolar ratio, dramatically reduces the pKa2 to 6.640.03. We explain these results in light of the novel electrostatic/hydrogen bond switch model described recently for phosphatidic acid. In mixtures with dielaidoylphosphatidylethanolamine, small concentrations of Cer-1-P cause a large reduction of the lamellar-to-inverted hexagonal phase transition temperature, suggesting that Cer-1-P induces, like phosphatidic acid, negative membrane curvature in these types of lipid mixtures. These properties place Cer-1-P in a class more akin to certain glycerophospholipids (phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidic acid) than to any other sphingolipid. In particular, the similarities and differences between ceramide and Cer-1-P may be relevant in explaining some of their physiological roles.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)4320-4330
Number of pages11
JournalBiophysical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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