We have investigated whether the growth requirement of keratinocytes for ethanolamine is due to defective synthesis of ethanolamine phosphoacylglycerols (EPG) via decarboxylation of serine phosphoacylglycerols. Proliferating keratinocytes readily incorporated [3H]ethanolamine into phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and [3H]serine into phosphatidylserine (PS) and PE. Non-proliferating keratinocytes in ethanolamine-free medium incorporated [3H]glycerol into phosphatidylcholine (PC), PS and PE in decreasing order of label incorporated. The order of decreasing incorporation of glycerol after addition of ethanolamine to the medium was PC > PE > PS. Incubation of non-proliferating keratinocytes with [3H]serine resulted in incorporation of label into PS and PE. The extent of incorporation of [3H]serine into PS in non-proliferating keratinocytes was not less than that in proliferating cells. Addition of ethanolamine to the medium of non-proliferating keratinocytes did not change the quantity of label incorporated into PS, but resulted in a decrease of label incorporated into PE. When cells were prelabelled overnight with [3H]serine and subsequently incubated in medium containing ethanolamine, the loss of label from PS was inhibited relative to that of control cells incubated in medium without ethanolamine. The activity of PS decarboxylase activity in keratinocyte mitochondria was inhibited by phosphoethanolamine and PE, but not by ethanolamine or CDP-ethanolamine. Both proliferating and non-proliferating keratinocytes incorporated [3H]serine into ether-linked ethanolamine phospholipids. Taken together, the above results suggest that (1) both proliferating and non-proliferating keratinocytes are able to synthesize PE and ether-linked ethanolamine phospholipids from serine, and therefore the ethanolamine-requirement of the cells is not due to a defective decarboxylase pathway; (2) any inability of the decarboxylase pathway to meet cellular EPG requirement is not due to decreased synthesis of serine phospholipids; (3) synthesis of PE via decarboxylation, the major route in nonproliferating keratinocytes, appears to decrease when ethanolamine is made available and the CDP-ethanolamine pathway is functioning; (4) phosphoethanolamine and increased PE produced from the CDP-ethanolamine pathway may inhibit PS decarboxylase activity in the cells and provide a means of coordinating the synthesis of PE by the two pathways to prevent excess production.

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