Effect of Expression of Human Glucosylceramidase 2 Isoforms on Lipid Profiles in COS-7 Cells

Metabolites. 2020 Nov 27;10(12):488. doi: 10.3390/metabo10120488.


Glucosylceramide (GlcCer) is a major membrane lipid and the precursor of gangliosides. GlcCer is mainly degraded by two enzymes, lysosomal acid β-glucosidase (GBA) and nonlysosomal β-glucosidase (GBA2), which may have different isoforms because of alternative splicing. To understand which GBA2 isoforms are active and how they affect glycosphingolipid levels in cells, we expressed nine human GBA2 isoforms in COS-7 cells, confirmed their expression by qRT-PCR and Western blotting, and assayed their activity to hydrolyze 4-methylumbelliferyl-β-D-glucopyranoside (4MUG) in cell extracts. Human GBA2 isoform 1 showed high activity, while the other isoforms had activity similar to the background. Comparison of sphingolipid levels by ultra-high resolution/accurate mass spectrometry (UHRAMS) analysis showed that isoform 1 overexpression increased ceramide and decreased hexosylceramide levels. Comparison of ratios of glucosylceramides to the corresponding ceramides in the extracts indicated that GBA2 isoform 1 has broad specificity for the lipid component of glucosylceramide, suggesting that only one GBA2 isoform 1 is active and affects sphingolipid levels in the cell. Our study provides new insights into how increased breakdown of GlcCer affects cellular lipid metabolic networks.

Keywords: ceramides; cerebrosides; enzymology; glycolipids; lipidomics; sphingolipids.