alexa The role of intranuclear lipids


Journal of Chemical Biology & Therapeutics

Author(s): Albi E, Viola Magni MP

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The presence of phospholipids as a component of chromatin is now well documented and many enzymes such as sphingomyelinase, sphingomyelin-synthase, reverse sphingomyelin-synthase and phosphatidylcholine-dependent phospholipase C have been described and characterised. Other lipids were demonstrated inside the nucleus especially plasmalogens and cholesterol. The chromatin phospholipids, comprising 10% of that present in the nucleus, show a different metabolism with respect to those present in either microsomes or in nuclear membranes; they increase also during the DNA duplication as shown during both liver regeneration and cell maturation. They appear localised near newly synthesized RNA in decondensed chromatin. Digestion of chromatin with RNase, but not with DNase, causes a loss of phospholipids. The composition of the chromatin phospholipid fraction shows an enrichment in sphingomyelin and phosphatidylserine. In this review the behaviour of single lipids in relation to cell proliferation, cell differentiation and apoptosis is described. Sphingomyelin, the lipid most represented in chromatin with respect to microsomes and nuclear membranes, is localised near to newly synthesized RNA, its presence appearing to protect RNA from RNase digestion. This effect is reversed by sphingomyelinase which digests sphingomyelin and, as a consequence, RNA may be hydrolysed. The amount of sphingomyelin is restored by sphingomyelin-synthase. Sphingomyelin increases during the differentiation process and apoptosis. An increase of sphingomyelinase with consequent decrease in sphingomyelin is observed at the beginning of S-phase of the cell cycle. A possible role in stabilising the DNA double helix is indicated. Phosphatidylserine behaves similarly during differentiation and appears to stimulate both RNA and DNA polymerases. Phosphatidylcholine is implicated in cell proliferation through the activation of intranuclear phosphatidylcholine-dependent phospholipase C and diacylglycerol production. The increase in diacylglycerol stimulates phosphatidylcholine synthesis through the major pathway from cytidyltriphosphate. An inhibition of phosphatidylcholine synthesis is responsible for the initiation of apoptosis. The presence of reverse sphingomyelin-synthase favours the formation of phosphatidylcholine, the donor of phosphorylcholine, from sphingomyelin. Little information has been reported for phospatidylethanolamine, but phosphtidylinositol appears to influence cell differentiation and proliferation. This last effect is due to the action of two enzymes: PI-PLCss1 having a role in the onset of DNA synthesis and PC-PLCgamma1 acting in G2 transit. Phosphoinositides also may have an important role: in membrane-stripped nuclei isolated from mitogen stimulated cells a decrease in PIP and PIP2 followed by an increase in diacylglycerol and a translocation of protein kinase C inside the nucleus is observed. On the other hand, overexpression of the enzyme inositol polysphosphate-1-phosphatase reduced DNA synthesis by 50%. Nevertheless, an enhanced rate of phosphorylation has been demonstrated in cells induced to differentiate. These molecules probably favour RNA transcription, counteracting the inhibition of H1 on RNA polymerase II. Plasmalogens were demonstrated in the nucleus and their increase favours the increased activity of phosphatidylcholine-dependent phospholipase C when DNA synthesis starts. Moreover, two forms of cholesterol has been described in chromatin: one, a less soluble sphingomyelin-linked form and a free fraction. Cholesterol increases during liver regeneration, first as a linked fraction and then, when DNA synthesis starts, as a free fraction. The changes of these components have been summarised in relation to cell function in order to give an overview of their possible roles in the different phases of cell duplication and their influence on cell differentiation and during apoptosis. Finally, the relevance of these molecules as intranuclear signals is discussed and future directions are indicated in clarifying pathological process such as tumour cell transformation and the possibility in finding new therapeutic tools.

This article was published in Biol Cell and referenced in Journal of Chemical Biology & Therapeutics

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