Experimental parasitology

Entamoeba invadens: sphingolipids metabolic regulation is the main component of a PKC signaling pathway in controlling cell growth and proliferation.

PMID 19249300


The sphingolipids biosynthesis pathway generates bioactive molecules crucial to the regulation of physiological processes. We have recently reported that DAG (diacylglycerol) generated during sphingomyelin synthesis, plays an important role in PKC (protein kinase C) activation, necessary for the transit through the cell cycle (G1 to S transition) and cell proliferation (Cerbon and Lopez-Sanchez, 2003. Diacylglycerol generated during sphingomyelin synthesis is involved in protein kinase C activation and cell proliferation in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. Biochem. J. 373, 917-924). Since pathogenic Entamoeba invadens synthesize the sphingolipids inositol-phosphate ceramide (IPC) and ethanolamine-phosphate ceramide (EPC) as well as sphingomyelin (SM), we decided to investigate when during growth initiation, the synthesis of sphingolipids takes place, DAG is generated and PKC is activated. We found that during the first 6h of incubation there was a significant increase in the synthesis of all three sphingolipids, accompanied by a progressive increment (up to 4-fold) in the level of DAG, and particulate PKC activity was increased 4-8 times. The enhanced DAG levels coincided with decrements in the levels of sphingoid bases, conditions adequate for the activation of PKC. Moreover, we found that inhibition of sphingolipid synthesis with myriocin, specific inhibitor of the synthesis of sphinganine, reduce DAG generation, PKC activation and cell proliferation. All these inhibitory processes were restored by metabolic complementation with exogenous D-erythrosphingosine, indicating that the DAG generated during sphingolipid synthesis was necessary for PKC activation and cell proliferation. Also, we show that PI (phosphatidylinositol), PE (phosphatidylethanolamine) and PC (phosphatidylcholine) are the precursors of their respective sphingolipids (IPC, EPC and SM), and therefore sources of DAG to activate PKC.

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