Identification of a Novel Acid Sphingomyelinase Activity Associated with Recombinant Human Acid Ceramidase

Xingxuan He, Edward H. Schuchman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acid ceramidase (AC) is a lysosomal enzyme required to hydrolyze ceramide to sphingosine by the removal of the fatty acid moiety. An inherited deficiency in this activity results in two disorders, Farber Lipogranulomatosis and spinal muscular atrophy with myoclonic epilepsy, leading to the accumulation of ceramides and other sphingolipids in various cells and tissues. In addition to ceramide hydrolysis, several other activities have been attributed to AC, including a reverse reaction that synthesizes ceramide from free fatty acids and sphingosine, and a deacylase activity that removes fatty acids from complex lipids such as sphingomyelin and glycosphingolipids. A close association of AC with another important enzyme of sphingolipid metabolism, acid sphingomyelinase (ASM), has also been observed. Herein, we used a highly purified recombinant human AC (rhAC) and novel UPLC-based assay methods to investigate the recently described deacylase activity of rhAC against three sphingolipid substrates, sphingomyelin, galactosyl- and glucosylceramide. No deacylase activities were detected using this method, although we did unexpectedly identify a significant ASM activity using natural (C-18) and artificial (Bodipy-C12) sphingomyelin substrates as well as the ASM-specific fluorogenic substrate, hexadecanoylamino-4-methylumbelliferyl phosphorylcholine (HMU-PC). We showed that this ASM activity was not due to contaminating, hamster-derived ASM in the rhAC preparation, and that the treatment of ASM-knockout mice with rhAC significantly reduced sphingomyelin storage in the liver. However, unlike the treatment with rhASM, this did not lead to elevated ceramide or sphingosine levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1623
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Farber disease
  • ceramidase
  • deacylase
  • sphingomyelinase


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