We have demonstrated previously that there is an abnormal expression of sphingomyelin (SM) deacylase in the epidermis of patients with atopic dermatitis (ADe). In the present study, we have prepared N-[palmitic acid-1-14C]SM and N-[palmitic acid-1-14C]glucosylceramide (GCer) to use as substrates and have quantified SM deacylase activity by detecting the release of [14C]palmitic acid in extracts of the stratum corneum or the epidermis of ADe patients. In studies using [palmitic acid-1-14C]SM as a substrate, a pH dependency of catalytic activity with a peak at pH 5.0 was found. Preparative SDS/PAGE using an extract of ADe epidermis revealed that the molecular mass of SM deacylase is 40000Da, which is consistent with its apparent molecular mass of 42000Da estimated by gel-filtration analysis of stratum corneum extracts. Analytical isoelectric focusing (IEF) chromatography demonstrated that the pI values of SM deacylase, β-glucocerebrosidase (GlcCDase), sphingomyelinase (SMase) and acid ceramidase were 4.2, 7.4, 7.0 and 5.7, respectively. In enzymic analysis using pI-4.2 SM deacylase partially purified by IEF, which had no detectable contamination with acid ceramidase, GlcCDase or SMase, radio-TLC analysis revealed that radiolabelled sphingosylphosphocholine or [1-14C]palmitic acid was enzymically liberated from [choline-methyl-14C]SM or N-[palmitoyl-1-14C]GCer, respectively, used as substrates. Further the pI-4.2 protein purified from extracts of the stratum corneum of ADe patients was able to hydrolyse N-[palmitoyl-1-14C]SM and GCer, but not N-[palmitoyl-1-14C]ceramide. These results indicate that a hitherto undiscovered epidermal enzyme, termed here glucosylceramide sphingomyelin deacylase, is expressed in the skin of ADe patients, which plays an important role in ceramide deficiency (including acylceramides) in the stratum corneum.
- The Biochemical Society, London © 2000