Sphingomyelin synthesis in rat liver occurs predominantly at the cis and medial cisternae of the Golgi apparatus

A. H. Futerman, B. Stieger, A. L. Hubbard, R. E. Pagano

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The intracellular site of sphingomyelin (SM) synthesis was examined in subcellular fractions from rat liver using a radioactive ceramide analog N-([1-14C]hexanoyl)-D-erythro-sphingosine. This lipid readily transferred from a complex with bovine serum albumin to liver fractions without disrupting the membranes, and was metabolized to radioactive SM. To prevent degradation of the newly synthesized SM to ceramide, all experiments were performed in the presence of EDTA to minimize neutral sphingomyelinase activity and at neutral pH to minimize acid sphingomyelinase activity. An intact Golgi apparatus fraction gave an 85-98-fold enrichment of SM synthesis and a 58-83-fold enrichment of galactosyltransferase activity. Controlled trypsin digestion demonstrated that SM synthesis was localized to the lumen of intact Golgi apparatus vesicles. Although small amounts of SM synthesis were detected in plasma membrane and rough microsome fractions, after accounting for contamination by Golgi apparatus membranes, their combined activity contributed less than 13% of the total MS synthesis in rat liver. Subfractions of the Golgi apparatus were obtained and characterized by immunoblotting and biochemical assays using cis/medial (mannosidase II) and trans (sialyltransferase and galactosyltransferase) Golgi apparatus markers. The specific activity of SM synthesis was highest in enriched cis and medial fractions but far lower in a trans fraction. We conclude that SM synthesis in rat liver occurs predominantly in the cis and medial cisternae of the Golgi apparatus and not at the plasma membrane or endoplasmic reticulum as has been previously suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8650-8657
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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