Evidence that ganglioside enriched domains are distinct from caveolae MDCK II and human fibroblast cells, in culture

Vanna Chigorno, Paola Palestini, Mariateresa Sciannamblo, Vincenza Dolo, Antonio Pavan, Guido Tettamanti, Sandro Sonnino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cultures of MDCK II and human fibroblast cells were fed radioactive sphingosine and a radioactive GM3 ganglioside derivative containing a photoactivable group. The derived cell homogenates were treated with Triton X-100 and fractionated by sucrose-gradient centrifugation to prepare a detergent-insoluble membrane fraction known to be enriched in sphingolipid and caveolin-1, i.e. of caveolae. The detergent-insoluble membrane fraction prepared after feeding [1-3H]sphingosine to cells, was found to be highly enriched, with respect to protein content, in metabolically radiolabeled sphingomyelin and glycosphingolipids (about 18-fold). By feeding cells photoactivable radioactive GM3, after 2 h-chase, caveolin-1, CAV1, and proteins of high molecular mass became cross-linked to GM3, the cross-linking complexes being highly concentrated in the detergent-insoluble membrane fraction. The interaction between the ganglioside derivative and CAV1 was a time-dependent, transient process so that CAV1 cross-linking to GM3 was hardly detectable after a 24-h chase followed the pulse time. After a 24-h chase, only the high molecular mass proteins cross-linked to GM3 could be clearly observed. These results suggest that a portion of the GM3 administered to cells enters caveolae and moves to the glycosphingolipid domains, or enters caveolae that are then rapidly catabolized. Electron microscopy of cells in a culture immunostained with a monoclonal antibody to GM3 and a secondary gold-conjugated antibody detected several clusters of gangliosides on the plasma membranes separate from caveolae; gangliosides located inside the caveolae could not be detected. Scanning confocal microscopy of cells immunostained with anti-GM3 and anti-CAV1 Ig showed only a very small overlap with the CAV1 and GM3 signals. Thus, the biochemical and microscopic studies suggest that caveolae contain at most a low level of gangliosides and are separate from the GM3 ganglioside enriched domains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4187-4197
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Caveolae
  • Caveolin-1
  • Gangliosides
  • GM3
  • Sphingolipid domains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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