Redox-regulated signaling by lactosylceramide in the proliferation of human aortic smooth muscle cells

Anil Kumar Bhunia, Hui Han, Ann Snowden, Subroto Chatterjee

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170 Scopus citations


Previously, our laboratory reported that lactosylceramide (LacCer) stimulated human aortic smooth muscle cell proliferation via specific activation of p44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in the p21(ras)/Raf-1/MEK2 pathway and induced expression of the transcription factor c-fos downstream to the p44 MAPK signaling cascade (Bhunia A. K., Han, H., Snowden, A., and Chatterjee S. (1996) J. Biol. Chem. 271, 10660-10666). In the present study, we explored the role of free oxygen radicals in LacCer- mediated induction of cell proliferation. Superoxide levels were measured by the lucigenin chemiluminescence method, MAPK activity was measured by immunocomplex kinase assays, and Western blot analysis and c-fos expression were measured by Northern blot assay. We found that LacCer (10 μM) stimulates endogenous superoxide production (7-fold compared with control) in human aortic smooth muscle cells specifically by activating membrane- associated NADPH oxidase, but not NADH or xanthine oxidase. This process was inhibited by an inhibitor of NADPH oxidase, diphenylene iodonium (DPI), and by antioxidants, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) or pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate. NAC and DPI both abrogated individual steps in the signaling pathway leading to cell proliferation. For example, the p21(ras)-GTP loading, p44 MAPK activity, and induction of transcription factor c-fos all were inhibited by NAC and DPI as well as an antioxidant pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate or reduced glutathione (GSH). In contrast, depletion of GSH by L-buthionine (S,R)- sulfoximine up-regulated the above described signaling cascade. In sum, LacCer, by virtue of activating NADPH oxidase, produces superoxide (a redox stress signaling molecule), which mediates cell proliferation via activation of the kinase cascade. Our findings may explain the potential role of LacCer in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis involving the proliferation of aortic smooth muscle cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15642-15649
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 20 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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