Modulating Sphingolipid Biosynthetic Pathway Rescues Photoreceptor Degeneration

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Science  14 Mar 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5613, pp. 1740-1743
DOI: 10.1126/science.1080549

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Mutations in proteins of the Drosophilaphototransduction cascade, a prototypic guanine nucleotide–binding protein–coupled receptor signaling system, lead to retinal degeneration and have been used as models to understand human degenerative disorders. Here, modulating the sphingolipid biosynthetic pathway rescued retinal degeneration inDrosophila mutants. Targeted expression ofDrosophila neutral ceramidase rescued retinal degeneration in arrestin and phospholipase C mutants. Decreasing flux through the de novo sphingolipid biosynthetic pathway also suppressed degeneration in these mutants. Both genetic backgrounds modulated the endocytic machinery because they suppressed defects in a dynamin mutant. Suppression of degeneration in arrestin mutant flies expressing ceramidase correlated with a decrease in ceramide levels. Thus, enzymes of sphingolipid metabolism may be suitable targets in the therapeutic management of retinal degeneration.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: acharyaj{at} (J.K.A.), acharyau{at} (U.A.)

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