Acid sphingomyelinase is required for efficient phago-lysosomal fusion

Michael Schramm, Jasmin Herz, Albert Haas, Martin Krönke, Olaf Utermöhlen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The acid sphingomyelinase (ASMase) localizes to the lumen of endosomes, phagosomes and lysosomes as well as to the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane and hydrolyses sphingomyelin to ceramide and phosphorylcholine. Using the facultative intracellular bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, we show that maturation of phagosomes into phagolysosomes is severely impaired in macrophages genetically deficient for ASMase. Unlike in wild-type macrophages, phagosomes containing L. monocytogenes in ASMase-/- macrophages remained positive for the late phagosomal markers mannose-6-phosphate receptor (M6PR) and Rab7 for at least 2 h and, correspondingly, showed delayed acquisition of lysosomal markers like lysosome associated membrane protein 1 (Lamp1). The transfer of lysosomal fluid phase markers into phagosomes containing L. monocytogenes was severely impaired in ASMase-/- macrophages and decreased with increasing size of the cargo. Moreover, phagosomes containing L.monocytogenes from ASMase-/- cells acquired significantly less listeriocidal proteases cathepsin D, B and L. The results of this study suggest that ASMase is required for the proper fusion of late phagosomes with lysosomes, which is crucial for efficient transfer of lysosomal antibacterial hydrolases into phagosomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1839-1853
Number of pages15
JournalCellular microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2008


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