The sphingomyelin synthase family: proteins, diseases, and inhibitors

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Sphingomyelin (SM) is among the most important biomolecules in eukaryotes and acts as both constructive components and signal carrier in physiological processes. SM is catalyzed by a membrane protein family, sphingomyelin synthases (SMSs), consisting of three members, SMS1, SMS2 and SMSr. SMSs modulate sphingomyelin and other sphingolipids levels, thereby regulating membrane mobility, ceramide-dependent apoptosis and DAG-dependent signaling pathways. SMSs was found associated with various diseases. Downregulation of SMS2 activity results in protective effects against obesity, atherosclerosis and diabetes and makes SMS2 inhibitors potential medicines. Structural guided specific drug design could be the next breakthrough, discriminating SMS2 from other homologs.

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