Ceramide metabolism in mouse tissue

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2013 Aug;45(8):1886-94. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2013.06.004. Epub 2013 Jun 19.


Ceramides with different N-acyl chains can act as second messengers in various signaling pathways. They are involved in cell processes such as apoptosis, differentiation and inflammation. Ceramide synthases (CerS) are key enzymes in the biosynthesis of ceramides and dihydroceramides. Six isoenzymes (CerS1-6) catalyze the N-acylation of the sphingoid bases, albeit with strictly acyl-Coenzyme A (CoA) chain length specificity. We analyzed the mRNA expression, the protein expression, the specific activity of the CerS, and acyl-CoA, dihydroceramide and ceramide levels in different tissues by LC-MS/MS. Our data indicate that each tissue express a distinct composition of CerS, whereby the CerS mRNA expression levels do not correlate with the respective protein expression levels in the tissues. Furthermore, we found a highly significant negative correlation between the protein expression level of CerS6 and the C16:0-acyl-CoA amounts as well as between the protein expression of CerS2 and C24:0-acyl-CoA amounts. These data indicate that in mouse tissues low substrate availability is compensated by higher CerS protein expression level and vice versa. Apart from the expression level and the specific activity of the CerS, other enzymes of the sphingolipid pathway also influence the composition of ceramides with distinct chain lengths in each cell. Acyl-CoA availability seems to be less important for ceramide composition and might be compensated for by CerS expression/activity.

Keywords: (dihydro)ceramide synthase; Acyl-CoA; Acyl-Coenzyme A; Cer; CerS; Ceramide; Ceramide synthase; LC–MS/MS; Mouse tissue; dhCer; dihydroceramide; liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyl Coenzyme A / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Ceramides / biosynthesis
  • Ceramides / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Organ Specificity* / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Acyl Coenzyme A
  • Ceramides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Oxidoreductases
  • dihydroceramide desaturase