Sphingolipid long chain base phosphates can regulate apoptotic-like programmed cell death in plants

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Jul 8;410(3):574-80. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.06.028. Epub 2011 Jun 12.


Sphingolipids are ubiquitous components of eukaryotic cells and sphingolipid metabolites, such as the long chain base phosphate (LCB-P), sphingosine 1 phosphate (S1P) and ceramide (Cer) are important regulators of apoptosis in animal cells. This study evaluated the role of LCB-Ps in regulating apoptotic-like programmed cell death (AL-PCD) in plant cells using commercially available S1P as a tool. Arabidopsis cell cultures were exposed to a diverse array of cell death-inducing treatments (including Cer) in the presence of S1P. Rates of AL-PCD and cell survival were recorded using vital stains and morphological markers of AL-PCD. Internal LCB-P levels were altered in suspension cultured cells using inhibitors of sphingosine kinase and changes in rates of death in response to heat stress were evaluated. S1P reduced AL-PCD and promoted cell survival in cells subjected to a range of stresses. Treatments with inhibitors of sphingosine kinase lowered the temperature which induced maximal AL-PCD in cell cultures. The data supports the existence of a sphingolipid rheostat involved in controlling cell fate in Arabidopsis cells and that sphingolipid regulation of cell death may be a shared feature of both animal apoptosis and plant AL-PCD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis*
  • Arabidopsis / cytology
  • Arabidopsis / drug effects
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Ceramides / pharmacology
  • Ceramides / physiology*
  • Heat-Shock Response
  • Lysophospholipids / pharmacology
  • Lysophospholipids / physiology*
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / metabolism
  • Sphingosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Sphingosine / pharmacology
  • Sphingosine / physiology


  • Ceramides
  • Lysophospholipids
  • sphingosine 1-phosphate
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • sphingosine kinase
  • N,N-dimethylsphingosine
  • Sphingosine