Induction of programmed cell death in human retinoblastoma Y79 cells by C2-ceramide

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C2-ceramide, a cell-permeable analogue of ceramide, induced significant, dose- and time-dependent death in human retinoblastoma Y79 cells. Dying cells strongly displayed the morphology of apoptosis as characterized by microscopic evidence of cell shrinkage, membrane blebbing, nuclear and chromatin condensation and degeneration of the nucleus into membrane-bound apoptotic bodies. Upon induction of apoptosis Y79 cells evidence early phosphatidylserine externalization, as shown by annexin V-FITC. Apoptosis was also assessed by monitoring changes in cell granularity by staining with the combined fluorescent dyes acridine orange and ethidium bromide. C2-ceramide induced these morphological changes without a concomitant production of oligonucleosomal fragments responsible for the DNA ladder and without changes in p53 protein level. Apoptosis was accompanied by accumulation of a modified Bcl-2 protein with a slower-mobility form, and by proteolytic cleavage of PARP. The effect seemed to be specific for C2-ceramide, as C2-dihydroceramide, or other amphiphilic lipid analogues, or products of ceramide hydrolysis were ineffective. The effect also depended on mRNA and protein synthesis as it was markedly inhibited by actinomycin D and cycloheximide. Sphingomyelinase and interleukin-lβ, which are known to activate the sphingomyelin turnover leading to ceramide generation, also induced apoptosis mimicking the effects of ceramide. These findings propose ceramide as an activator of the suicidal program in Y79 cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-15
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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