N-glycosylation of human sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase acid-like 3A (SMPDL3A) is essential for stability, secretion and activity

Mathew Traini*, Raani Kumaran, Morten Thaysen-Andersen, Maaike Kockx, Wendy Jessup, Leonard Kritharides

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    Sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase acid-like 3A (SMPDL3A) is a recently identified phosphodiesterase, which is a secreted N-linked glycoprotein. SMPDL3A is highly homologous to acid sphingomyelinase (aSMase), but unlike aSMase cannot cleave sphingomyelin. Rather, SMPDL3A hydrolyzes nucleotide tri- and diphosphates and their derivatives. While recent structural studies have shed light on these unexpected substrate preferences, many other aspects of SMPDL3A biology, which may give insight into its function in vivo, remain obscure. Here, we investigate the roles of N-glycosylation in the expression, secretion and activity of human SMPDL3A, using inhibitors of N-glycosylation and site-directed mutagenesis, with either THP-1 macrophages or CHO cells expressing human SMPDL3A. Tunicamycin (TM) treatment resulted in expression of non-glycosylated SMPDL3A that was not secreted, and was largely degraded by the proteasome. Proteasomal inhibition restored levels of SMPDL3A in TM-treated cells, although this non-glycosylated protein lacked phosphodiesterase activity. Enzymatic deglycosylation of purified recombinant SMPDL3A also resulted in significant loss of phosphodiesterase activity. Site-directed mutagenesis of individual N-glycosylation sites in SMPDL3A identified glycosylation of Asn69 and Asn222 as affecting maturation of its N-glycans and secretion. Glycosylation of Asn356 in SMPDL3A, an N-linked site conserved throughout the aSMase-like family, was critical for protection against proteasomal degradation and preservation of enzymatic activity. We provide the first experimental evidence for a predicted 22 residue N-terminal signal peptide in SMPDL3A, which is essential for facilitating glycosylation and is removed from the mature protein secreted from CHO cells. In conclusion, site-specific N-glycosylation is essential for the intracellular stability, secretion and activity of human SMPDL3A.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1071-1092
    Number of pages22
    JournalBiochemical Journal
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


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