Sphingosine reverses growth inhibition caused by activation of protein kinase C in vascular smooth muscle cells

Robert H Weiss, Chou Long Huang, Harlan E. Ives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


In certain cell systems, including neonatal vascular smooth muscle (VSM) cells, phorbol esters are growth inhibitory. Here we show that 1,2-dioctanoyl-sn-glycerol (DiC8), when added 2 h after α-thrombin, reverses by >95% the induction of DNA synthesis in VSM cells by α-thrombin. Sphingosine, a naturally occurring lysosphingolipid inhibitor of protein kinase C, and its synthetic analogues N-acetylsphingosine and C11-sphingosine were used to investigate this phenomenon further. Neither phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA;200 ng/ml) nor sphingosine (up to 10 μM) alone had any effect upon basal DNA synthesis in VSM cells. Like DiC8, PMA totally blocked the induction of DNA synthesis by α-thrombin. This inhibitory effect of PMA was reversed by sphingosine in a dose-dependent manner with complete reversal at 10 μ. Neither N-acetylsphingosine nor C11-sphingosine exhibited any effect on DNA synthesis in VSM cells. The effect of sphingosine and its analogues on the activity of protein kinase C extracted from VSM cells was measured by histone III-S phosphorylation. Protein kinase C activity was inhibited 50% by 300 μM sphingosine, but <15% by similar concentrations of N-acetylsphingosine and C11-sphingosine. To assess the effects of sphingosine and analogues on protein kinase C in intact cells, we examined the effect of the lipids on [3H]phorbol dibutyrate binding. Sphingosine (at > 5 μM), but not N-acetylsphingosine or C11-sphingosine, blocked I [3H]phorbol dibutyrate binding in a dose- and time-dependent fashion. Thus the mechanism of growth inhibition by DiC8 and PMA in neonatal VSM cells appears to be through activation of protein kinase C by these compounds. Sphingosine reverses this growth inhibition through interference with the binding to protein kinase C of phorbol esters or other activators of this enzyme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-312
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Physiology


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