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A new functional motif in Hox domain-containing ceramide synthases: identification of a novel region flanking the Hox and TLC domains essential for activity.

Mesika A., Ben-Dor S., Laviad E.L., Futerman A.H.

Ceramide is synthesized in mammals by a family of ceramide synthases (CerS) each of which uses a relatively restricted set of fatty acyl-CoAs for N-acylation of the sphingoid long chain base (Pewzner-Jung, Y., Ben-Dor, S., and Futerman, A. H. (2006) J. Biol. Chem. 281, 25001-25005). CerS are characterized by two functional domains, the Tram-Lag-CLN8 (TLC) domain and the homeobox (Hox) domain, which is found in all mammalian CerS except CerS1. We now demonstrate that the majority of the Hox domain is not required for CerS activity since its deletion in CerS5 does not affect activity. Subsequently, we define a highly conserved new motif of 12 amino acid residues that flanks the Hox and TLC domains but is not part of the TLC domain, which is essential for CerS5 and CerS6 activity. Two positively charged residues in this domain, one of which is conserved in all putative CerS in all organisms, are essential for activity since site-directed mutagenesis of either (Lys-134 and Lys-140 in CerS5) results in an approximately 50% loss of activity, whereas mutation of both leads to a complete loss of activity. Because this region is conserved across species, we propose that it plays a previously unidentified and essential role in CerS activity and can be used as a new motif to define Hox domain-containing CerS.

J. Biol. Chem. 282:27366-27373(2007) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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