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Sphingomyelinase (SMase), a hydrolase of sphingomyelin (SM) enriched in the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane of mammalian cells, is closely associated with the onset and development of many diseases, but the specific mechanisms of SMase on the cell structure, function, and behavior are not yet fully understood due to the complexity of the cell structure. Artificial cells are minimal biological systems constructed from various molecular components designed to mimic cellular processes, behaviors, and structures, which are excellent models for studying biochemical reactions and dynamic changes in cell membranes. In this work, we presented an artificial cell model that mimics the lipid composition and content of the outer leaflet of mammalian plasma membranes for studying the effect of SMase on cell behavior. The results confirmed that the artificial cells can respond to SM degradation by producing ceramides that enrich and alter the membrane charge and permeability, thus inducing the budding and fission of the artificial cells. Thus, the artificial cells developed here provide a powerful tool to study the mechanism of action of cell membrane lipids on cell biological behavior, paving the way for further molecular mechanism studies.


Hai-Yan Wen, Han Zhu, Hui-Ping Wen, Meng-Qian Zhang, Zhi-Gang Wang, Shu-Lin Liu. Artificial Cells for Cellular Behavior Mimicry Induced by Sphingomyelin Degradation. Bioconjugate chemistry. 2023 Jun 21;34(6):1037-1044

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PMID: 37204067

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