Recycling of glucosylceramide and sphingosine for the biosynthesis of gangliosides and sphingomyelin in rat liver.

M. Trinchera, R. Ghidoni, S. Sonnino, G. Tettamanti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It was previously shown that sphingomyelin and gangliosides can be biosynthesized starting from sphingosine or sphingosine-containing fragments which originated in the course of GM1 ganglioside catabolism. In the present paper we investigated which fragments were specifically re-used for sphingomyelin and ganglioside biosynthesis in rat liver. At 30 h after intravenous injection of GM1 labelled at the level of the fatty acid ([stearoyl-14C]GM1) or of the sphingosine ([Sph-3H]) moiety, it was observed that radioactive sphingomyelin was formed almost exclusively after the sphingosine-labelled-GM1 administration. This permitted the recognition of sphingosine as the metabolite re-used for sphingomyelin biosynthesis. Conversely, gangliosides more complex than GM1 were similarly radiolabelled after the two treatments, thus ruling out sphingosine re-utilization for ganglioside biosynthesis. For the identification of the lipid fragment re-used for ganglioside biosynthesis, we administered to rats neutral glycosphingolipids (galactosylceramide, glucosylceramide and lactosylceramide) each radiolabelled in the sphingosine moiety or in the terminal sugar residue. Thereafter we compared the formation of radiolabelled gangliosides in the liver with respect to the species administered and the label location. After galactosylceramide was injected, no radiolabelled gangliosides were formed. After the administration of differently labelled glucosylceramide, radiolabelled gangliosides were formed, regardless of the position of the label. After lactosylceramide administration, the ganglioside fraction became more radioactive when the long-chain-base-labelled precursors were used. These results suggest that glucosylceramide, derived from glycosphingolipid and ganglioside catabolism, is recycled for ganglioside biosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)815-820
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 15 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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