The mammalian Golgi apparatus is composed of multiple stacks of cisternal membranes organized laterally into a polarized ribbon. Furthermore, trans-Golgi membranes come in close apposition with ER (endoplasmic reticulum) membranes to form ER–trans-Golgi contact sites, which may facilitate transfer of newly synthesized ceramide from the ER to SM (sphingomyelin) synthase at the trans-Golgi via CERT (ceramide transfer protein). CERT interacts with both ER and Golgi membranes, and together with Golgi morphology contributes to efficient SM synthesis. In the present study, we show that Golgi disassembly during pro-apoptotic stress induced by TNFα (tumour necrosis factor α) and anisomycin results in decreased levels of CERT at the Golgi region. This is accompanied by a caspase-dependent loss of full-length CERT and reduction in de novo SM synthesis. In vitro, CERT is cleaved by caspases 2, 3 and 9. Truncated versions of CERT corresponding to fragments generated by caspase 2 cleavage at Asp213 were mislocalized and did not promote efficient de novo SM synthesis. Thus it is likely that during cellular stress, disassembly of Golgi structure together with inactivation of CERT by caspases causes a reduction in ceramide trafficking and SM synthesis, and could contribute to the cellular response to pro-apoptotic stress.

You do not currently have access to this content.