Biomol Ther  
Development of a Label-Free LC-MS/MS-Based Glucosylceramide Synthase Assay and Its Application to Inhibitors Screening for Ceramide-Related Diseases
Zhicheng Fuψ, So Yoon Yun, Jong Hoon Won, Moon Jung Back, Ji Min Jang, Hae Chan Ha, Hae Kyung Lee, In Chul Shin, Ju Yeun Kim, Hee Soo Kim and Dae Kyong Kim*
Department of Environmental & Health Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, Chung-Ang University, Seoul 06974, Republic of Korea
E-mail: kimdk@cau.ac.kr
Tel: +82-2-820-5610, Fax: +82-2-825-7920
ψPresent Address
National institute for nutrition and health, Chinese center for disease control and prevention, Beijing 100050, China
Received: July 4, 2018; Revised: August 7, 2018; Accepted: August 9, 2018; Published online: September 20, 2018.
© The Korean Society of Applied Pharmacology. All rights reserved.

Abstract
Ceramide metabolism is known to be an essential etiology for various diseases, such as atopic dermatitis and Gaucher disease. Glucosylceramide synthase (GCS) is a key enzyme for the synthesis of glucosylceramide (GlcCer), which is a main ceramide metabolism pathway in mammalian cells. In this article, we developed a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method to determine GCS activity using synthetic non-natural sphingolipid C8-ceramide as a substrate. The reaction products, C8-GlcCer for GCS, could be separated on a C18 column by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Quantification was conducted using the multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) mode to monitor the precursor-to-product ion transitions of m/z 588.6 → 264.4 for C8-GlcCer at positive ionization mode. The calibration curve was established over the range of 0.625-160 ng/mL, and the correlation coefficient was larger than 0.999. This method was successfully applied to detect GCS in the human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line (HepG2 cells) and mouse peripheral blood mononuclear cells. We also evaluated the inhibition degree of a known GCS inhibitor 1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol (PDMP) on GCS enzymatic activity and proved that this method could be successfully applied to GCS inhibitor screening of preventive and therapeutic drugs for ceramide metabolism diseases, such as atopic dermatitis and Gaucher disease.
Keywords: Ceramide, Chemotherapeutic multi-drug resistance, Gaucher disease, Glucosylceramide, Glucosylceramide synthase, LC-MS/MS


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