Kinetics and size of cholesterol lateral domains in synaptosomal membranes: Modification by sphingomyelinase and effects on membrane enzyme activity Academic Article uri icon


  • Cholesterol domains and transport have been well-studied in non-neuronal membranes in contrast to neuronal membranes. The purpose of the experiments reported in this paper was to determine: (1) exchangeable and non-exchangeable cholesterol domains or pools were present in brain synaptosomal membranes; (2) effects of hydrolysis of sphingomyelin on cholesterol pools, that has previously been shown to alter membrane cholesterol in non-neuronal membranes and; (3) sphingomyelin hydrolysis and enzyme activity. Cholesterol pools were determined using cholesterol exchange between radiolabeled small unilamellar vesicles and mouse synaptosomes. Activity of Ca(2+)+Mg(2+)-ATPase and Na(+)+K(+)-ATPase were measured in synaptosomal membranes following treatment with sphingomyelinase. The size of the exchangeable pool of synaptosomal membrane cholesterol was approx 50% of total membrane cholesterol when measured at 37 degrees C. The t1/2 of cholesterol exchange at 37 degrees C in synaptosomes was approx 10 h. Lowering the incubation temperature to 25 degrees C, significantly reduced the size of the exchangeable pool and significantly increased the t1/2 of cholesterol exchange. Sphingomyelinase treatment of synaptosomes significantly slowed cholesterol exchange but did not modify the size of the exchangeable pool of cholesterol. Ca(2+)+Mg(2+)-ATPase activity was significantly inhibited by sphingomyelinase treatment as compared to Na(+)+K(+)-ATPase activity. Cholesterol domains were described in neuronal tissue and the size and kinetics of those pools were altered by temperature-induced changes in fluidity and hydrolysis of sphingomyelin. Sphingomyelinase-induced changes in Ca(2+)+Mg(2+)-ATPase activity were not affected by hydrolysis of sphingomyelin but appeared to be associated with a reduction in cytofacial phosphatidylinositol.

author list (cited authors)

  • Rao, A. M., Igbavboa, U., Semotuk, M., Schroeder, F., & Wood, W. G.

citation count

  • 19

publication date

  • July 1993