Tumor necrosis factor activation of the sphingomyelin pathway signals nuclear factor κB translocation in intact HL-60 cells Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • NF-kappa B
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sphingomyelins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha


  • Recent investigations suggest that tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha may utilize the sphingomyelin pathway for signal transduction. Signaling in this system involves hydrolysis of sphingomyelin to ceramide by action of a neutral sphingomyelinase and stimulation of a ceramide-activated protein kinase (Dressler, K. A., Mathias, S., and Kolesnick, R. N. (1992) Science 255, 1715-1718). To clarify the role of this pathway in TNF action, the present studies assessed the effect of the sphingomyelin pathway on activation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappa B), an event considered integral to the transfer of the TNF message to the cell nucleus. As shown previously, TNF (1 nM) induced a marked increase in nuclear NF-kappa B binding in human leukemia (HL-60) cells within 5 min, and elevated binding was detected for as long as 1 h. Addition of a maximally effective concentration of sphingomyelinase, 0.1 units.ml-1, induced a 50% reduction in sphingomyelin content by 5 min from a basal level of 560 pmol.10(6) cells-1 and a quantitative increase in ceramide levels from 89 pmol.10(6) cells-1. Sphingomyelinase 0.1 units.ml-1 also induced an increase in nuclear NF-kappa B binding within 5 min, an effect measurable for as long as 1 h. As little as 1 x 10(-5) units.ml-1 sphingomyelinase was effective and a maximal effect occurred with 1 x 10(-3) units.ml-1. A cell-permeable ceramide analog, C8-ceramide, which mimics biologic effects of TNF-alpha, also enhanced nuclear NF-kappa B activation within minutes. In contrast, addition of a phospholipase C or a synthetic diacylglycerol (DG) analog, 1,2-dioctanoylglycerol, failed to enhance nuclear NF-kappa B binding despite large increases in cellular DG content. Further, TNF-alpha induced elevation in ceramide content by 2 min to 185% of control but did not affect DG levels. These studies provide evidence that stimulation of the sphingomyelin pathway leads to NF-kappa B activation in HL-60 cells.

publication date

  • September 25, 1993



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed ID

  • 8376408

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 20520

end page

  • 3


  • 268


  • 27