[Frontiers in Bioscience E5, 97-108, January 1, 2013]

Sphingolipid signaling in yeast: potential implications for understanding disease

Sharon Epstein1, Howard Riezman1

1NCCR Chemical Biology, Department of Biochemistry, 30 quai Ernest Ansermet, University of Geneva, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland


1. Abstract
2. Introduction
3. Sphingoid base, the upstream physiological regulators
4. Dihydroceramides
5. Downstream of dihydroceramides: complex sphingolipids
6. Systems approach
7. Conclusion
8. Acknowledgment
9. References


Sphingolipids are essential components of membranes and important for cellular integrity. The main focus of research in the past years has been to demonstrate their role as second messengers. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an excellent model for the study of sphingolipids, because the first steps of this metabolic pathway are highly conserved among fungal, plant and the animal kingdoms. The yeast model is a valuable system for the understanding of pathways and development of tools that will help to better understand and intervene into the molecular mechanisms controlling health and disease. Different classes of sphingolipids have been shown to act in different pathways. Sphingoid bases were shown to be involved in protection against a series of stresses such as heat shock, osmotic stress and low pH. Ceramides have been shown to be involved in G1 arrest, heat shock response and more recently as a target of the TORC 2. Complex sphingolipids are essential for cell wall integrity and proper localization of GPI anchored proteins.