Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Charles Chalfant


Ceramide-1-phosphate (C1P) is a bioactive lipid that has been implicated in many biological processes. Our laboratory has conclusively demonstrated its role in inflammation via activation of cPLA2α. The only known enzyme to date responsible for direct synthesis of C1P is ceramide kinase. Very little was known about this enzyme in terms of its enzyme kinetics and substrate specificity. As CERK is an enzyme that acts on membrane lipids, its kinetics cannot be studied using standard bulk dilutions methods. Thus we developed a surface dilution approach using Triton X 100 mixed micelles for studying the kinetics of CERK. We discovered that ceramide kinase has an affinity for naturally occurring long chain ceramides while ceramides containing shorter than 8 carbons are very poor substrates for the enzyme. Also of note is the discovery that there is no discrimination between the naturally occurring long chain ceramides leading to the conclusion that the preponderance of D-e-C16 C1P in cells are due to an availability effect. We also investigated the chain length specificity of interaction between C1P and cPLA2α. Our data indicate that cPLA2α is activated by C1P’s containing acyl chains longer than two carbons. The study showed C2 C1P as being unable to activate cPLA2α thus establishing a tool for the investigation of cPLA2α dependent and independent effects of C1P. In the course of the study we investigated the ethanol/dodecane delivery system as a means of safely delivering lipids to cells. Our data conclusively demonstrate that this delivery system successfully delivers lipids to the internal membranes where their biological action takes place and that at low lipid concentration (<1µM), is non toxic to cells. A significant technical hurdle in the study of C1P was the lack of accurate and reproducible method of quantitatively and qualitatively analyzing the lipid. Using a mass spectrometric approach we developed an accurate technique that now allows us to quantify the lipids in cells. Using this and radiolabeling studies we discovered evidence for production of C1P from S1P via an acyl transferase pathway. Further studies are currently being carried out to identify the enzyme/s responsible for this pathway.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2008