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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Merrill Jr, Alfred
item Liotta, Dennis
item Riley, Ronald

Submitted to: Journal of Cell Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/8/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Fumonisins are toxic chemicals produced by molds which are present on corn. A major accomplishment of this work was the discovery that fumonisins prevent the formation of a group of fats known as sphingolipids and the subsequent widespread use of fumonisin as a biochemical probe to study the role that these fats play in human and animal health. Many important discoveries have since been made which provide new insight into the factors that control the switches that determine whether a cell lives, dies, or changes into a different type of cell.

Technical Abstract: Fumonisins are sphinganine analogs produced by Fusarium moniliforme and related fungi. They inhibit ceramide synthase and block biosynthesis of complex sphingolipids while promoting accumulation of sphinganine and sphinganine-1-phosphate. Disruption of sphingolipid metabolism by fumonisin B1 alters cell-cell interactions, the behavior of cell surface proteins, protein kinases, the metabolism of other lipids, cell growth viability, which probably account for the toxicity and carcinogenicity of these mycotoxins. Naturally occurring inhibitors of sphingolipid metabolism are useful for studies of the role of sphingolipids in cell regulation.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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