Synthetic ether lipids (EL) exert their antiproliferative action on leukemic cells through localization in the plasma membrane with subsequent biochemical effects which are still being elucidated. In the present study, the modulation of membrane-linked ATPase activity was investigated in relation to changes in membrane fluidity of HL60 and K562 human leukemic cells. Incubation of HL60 and K562 cells with EL under non-cytotoxic conditions caused significant membrane fluidization which was related to the membrane cholesterol (CHOL) levels. HL60 cells, which are sensitive to the cytotoxic action of EL, had a lower basal CHOL content. When HL60 cells were loaded with CHOL, Na+,K+-ATPase activity was reduced significantly compared to that of untreated cells. In contrast, CHOL-deprived K562 cells had twice the Na+,K+-ATPase activity of unmodified K562 cells. Na+K+- and Mg2+-ATPase activities were stimulated significantly in both cell lines by EL at concentrations lower than 20 μM. This stimulation was greater in cells richer in CHOL, such as K562 cells and CHOL-enriched HL60 cells. In contrast, Na+,K+-ATPase in both cell lines was inhibited by EL above 20 μM regardless of the CHOL content. Mg2+-ATPase activity was not related to cell CHOL content and was not inhibited by EL above 20 μM.
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