We recently showed that human skin fibroblasts internalize fluorescent analogues of the glycosphingolipids lactosylceramide and globoside almost exclusively by a clathrin-independent mechanism involving caveolae. In contrast, a sphingomyelin analogue is internalized approximately equally via clathrin-dependent and caveolar routes. Here, we further characterized the caveolar pathway for glycosphingolipids, showing that Golgi targeting of sphingolipids internalized via caveolae required microtubules and phosphoinositol 3-kinases and was inhibited in cells expressing dominant-negative Rab7 and Rab9 constructs. In addition, overexpression of wild-type Rab7 or Rab9 (but not Rab11) in Niemann-Pick type C (NP-C) lipid storage disease fibroblasts resulted in correction of lipid trafficking defects, including restoration of Golgi targeting of fluorescent lactosylceramide and endogenous GM1 ganglioside, and a dramatic reduction in intracellular cholesterol stores. Our results demonstrate a role for Rab7 and Rab9 in the Golgi targeting of glycosphingolipids and suggest a new therapeutic approach for restoring normal lipid trafficking in NP-C cells.


Amit Choudhury, Michel Dominguez, Vishwajeet Puri, Deepak K. Sharma, Keishi Narita, Christine L. Wheatley, David L. Marks, Richard E. Pagano


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