Affiliation: National Cancer Institute, Laboratory of Cell&Developmental Signaling, Rm. 22-90 B, Bldg. 560, 1050 Boyle St., Frederick, MD 21702.
Sphingolipids are important structural components of membranes, and play an equally important role in basic cellular processes as second messengers. Recently, sphingolipids are receiving increasing attention in cancer research. Ceramide is the central molecule that regulates sphingolipid metabolism forming the basic structural backbone of sphingolipids and the precursor of all complex sphingolipids. It is been proposed to be an important regulator of tumor cell death following exposure to stress stimuli. The increase or decrease of ceramide levels leading to change in sensitivity of cancer cells to stress stimuli provides support for a central role of ceramide signaling in cell death. In this review, we have focused on ceramide transfer protein (CERT) as a major regulator of ceramide flux in the cell.