Author(s): Schubert KM, Scheid MP, Duronio V
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Abstract The second messenger ceramide (N-alkylsphingosine) has been implicated in a host of cellular processes including growth arrest and apoptosis. Ceramide has been reported to have effects on both protein kinases and phosphatases and may constitute an important component of stress response in various tissues. We have examined in detail the relationship between ceramide signaling and the activation of an important signaling pathway, phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase and its downstream target, protein kinase B (PKB). PKB activation was observed following stimulation of cells with the cytokine granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor. Addition of cell-permeable ceramide analogs, C(2)- or C(6)-ceramide, caused a partial loss (50-60\%) of PKB activation. This reduction was not a result of decreased PI(3,4,5)P(3) or PI(3,4)P(2) generation by PI 3-kinase. Two residues of PKB (threonine 308 and serine 473) require phosphorylation for maximal PKB activation. Serine 473 phosphorylation was consistently reduced by treatment with ceramide, whereas threonine 308 phosphorylation remained unaffected. In further experiments, ceramide appeared to accelerate serine 473 dephosphorylation, suggesting the activation of a phosphatase. Consistent with this, the reduction in serine 473 phosphorylation was inhibited by the phosphatase inhibitors okadaic acid and calyculin A. Surprisingly, threonine 308 phosphorylation was abolished in cells treated with these inhibitors, revealing a novel mechanism of regulation of threonine 308 phosphorylation. These results demonstrate that PI 3-kinase-dependent kinase 2-catalyzed phosphorylation of serine 473 is the principal target of a ceramide-activated phosphatase.
This article was published in J Biol Chem
and referenced in Journal of Carcinogenesis & Mutagenesis