Sphingosine kinase is responsible for the formation of sphingosine-1-phosphate, a sphingolipid mediator with important roles in numerous physiological processes. The sphingosine kinase activity of Tetrahymena pyriformis was recovered predominantly in the particulate fraction and it could be solubilised in 1% β-octylglucoside. Anion-exchange chromatography resolved the β-octylglucoside-solubilised sphingosine kinase activity into two peaks corresponding to proteins of Mr 140,000 and 80,000 respectively, as determined by subsequent size exclusion chromatography on Superdex 200. N,N-dimethylsphingosine did not inhibit the sphingosine kinase activity in either fraction, whereas d,l-threo-dihydrosphingosine inhibited sphingosine phosphorylation by the Mr 80,000 kinase but had no effect on the Mr 140,000 kinase activity. The activities also showed different stimulatory responses to Triton X-100 or NaCl. Overall, the results suggest the existence in Tetrahymena of two distinct membrane-associated sphingosine kinases. The kinase activity determined at the different culture stages showed a transient elevation at the mid-logarithmic phase. Further, the sphingosine kinase activity was examined during the synchronous cell division induced by cyclic heat treatments in T. pyriformis. We report for the first time that the sphingosine kinase activity greatly increased at 30 to 45 min after the end of heat treatment prior to the synchronous cell division (75 min), suggesting that the activity changes were associated with the cell cycle and that the up-regulated sphingosine kinase activity would be required for the initiation of the oncoming synchronous cell division in Tetrahymena cells.
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Vol. 49 • No. 4