1-Deoxysphingolipids (1-deoxySL) are atypical sphingolipids that are formed by the enzyme serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT) due to a promiscuous use of l-alanine over its canonical substrate l-serine. Several mutations in SPT are associated with the hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type I (HSAN1). The current hypothesis is that these mutations induce a permanent shift in the affinity from l-serine toward l-alanine which results in a pathologically increased 1-deoxySL formation in HSAN1 patients. Also, wild-type SPT forms 1-deoxySL under certain conditions, and elevated levels were found in individuals with the metabolic syndrome and diabetes. However, the molecular mechanisms which control the substrate shift of the wild-type enzyme are not understood. Here, we report a novel SPTLC2–S384F variant in two unrelated HSAN1 families. Affected patients showed elevated plasma 1-deoxySL levels and expression of the S384F mutant in HEK293 cells increased 1-deoxySL formation. Previously, S384 has been reported as one of the two (S384 and Y387) putative phosphorylation sites in SPTLC2. The phosphorylation of wild-type SPTLC2 was confirmed by isoelectric focusing. The impact of an S384 phosphorylation on SPT activity was tested by creating mutants mimicking either a constitutively phosphorylated (S384D, S384E) or non-phosphorylated (S384A, Y387F, Y387F+S384A) protein. The S384D but not the S384E variant was associated with increased 1-deoxySL formation. The other mutations had no influence on activity and substrate affinity. In summary, our data show that S384F is a novel mutation in HSAN1 and that the substrate specificity of wild-type SPT might by dynamically regulated by a phosphorylation at this position.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)