Intracellular localization of lactosylceramide, the major human neutrophil glycosphingolipid

J Biol Chem. 1987 Aug 15;262(23):11356-63.


The abundance of lactosylceramide (LacCer; Gal beta 1-4Glc beta 1-1Cer) in human polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) (about 10(9) molecules/cell) seemed inconsistent with an exclusive plasma membrane LacCer localization in these cells. Therefore, the distribution of LacCer between plasma membrane and intracellular compartments was analyzed. Binding of 125I-labeled monoclonal anti-LacCer antibody (T5A7) to intact cells indicated that only 0.1-0.2% of total LacCer was accessible to antibody. Chemical and immunochemical comparisons of organic extracts prepared from PMN cytoplasts (i.e. PMN depleted of nucleus and granules) and intact PMN demonstrated that less than 25% of PMN LacCer was plasma membrane-derived. Simultaneous particle volume and surface staining analyses suggested that selective LacCer loss from cytoplasts could not explain this result. Intracellular LacCer was demonstrated by intense staining of PMN frozen thin sections with T5A7 in indirect immunofluorescence tests. Two-color fluorescence studies using frozen thin sections of neutrophils previously surface-stained with saturating concentrations of T5A7 indicated that this staining did not reflect section artifact. Organic extracts of density gradient-fractionated PMN cavitates were analyzed by radioimmunoassay to determine whether LacCer associates with known populations of PMN granules. Antigen predominantly cosedimented with enzyme markers for primary and secondary granules rather than with plasma membrane marker. Thin layer chromatography of glycolipids extracted from these density gradient fractions identified LacCer as the only antigenic species and demonstrated that chemically detectable LacCer was primarily in granule-enriched rather than plasma membrane fractions. These data indicate that human PMN LacCer is predominantly intracellular and that the glycolipid may be a constituent of PMN lysosomal granules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD*
  • Cell Membrane / analysis
  • Centrifugation, Density Gradient
  • Cytoplasm / analysis
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / analysis
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Glycosphingolipids / blood*
  • Humans
  • Lactosylceramides*
  • Neutrophils / analysis
  • Neutrophils / ultrastructure*
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Rhodamines
  • Subcellular Fractions / analysis
  • Thiocyanates


  • Antigens, CD
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Glycosphingolipids
  • Lactosylceramides
  • Rhodamines
  • Thiocyanates
  • CDw17 antigen
  • rhodamine isothiocyanate
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate