Cell cycle arrest induced by an inhibitor of glucosylceramide synthase: Correlation with cyclin-dependent kinases

C. S.Sheela Rani, Akira Abe, Yan Chang, Nitsa Rosenzweig, Alan R. Saltiel, Norman S. Radin, James A. Shayman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


In an attempt to define the basis for sphingolipid regulation of cell proliferation, we studied the effects of glucosylceramide (GlcCer) synthase inhibition by threo-1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol (PDMP) on NIH 3T3 cells overexpressing insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) receptors. PDMP treatment resulted in a time-dependent decrease in GlcCer levels and an increase in cellular ceramide levels. PDMP abolished serum and IGF-1-stimulated cell proliferation, as measured by a reduction in [3H]thymidine incorporation, protein, and DNA levels. However it did not affect IGF-1-mediated early signaling events, including receptor tyrosine kinase, MAP kinase, and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activities. Two-color flow cytometry with propidium iodide and 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine monophosphate labeling revealed an arrest of the cell cycle at G1/S and G2/M transitions in an asynchronous population of cells. These changes were time dependent, with maximal effects seen by 12-24 h. Removal of PDMP from the cell medium resulted in reversal of the cell cycle changes, with cells re-entering the S phase. The cell cycle arrest at the G1/S and G2/M transitions was confirmed in cells synchronized by pretreatment with nocodazole, aphidicolin, or hydroxyurea, and released from blockade in the presence of PDMP. A decrease in the activities of two cyclin-dependent kinases, p34cdc2 kinase and cdk2 kinase, was observed with PDMP treatment. When cell ceramide levels were increased by N-acetylsphingosine, comparable changes in the cell cycle distribution were seen. However, sphingomyelinase treatment was without effect. Therefore, it appears that ceramide mediates in part the inhibitory effect of GlcCer synthase inhibition on IGF-1-induced cell proliferation in 3T3 cells. The rapid production of decreased cyclin-dependent kinase activities by PDMP suggests that one of the crucial sites of action of the inhibitor lies in this area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2859-2867
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 10 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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