Sphingolipid research has surged in the past two decades and has produced a wide variety of evidence supporting the role of this class of molecules in mediating cellular growth, differentiation, senescence, and apoptosis. Ceramides are a subgroup of sphingolipids (SLs) that are directly involved in the process of initiation of apoptosis. We, and others, have recently shown that ceramides are capable of the formation of protein-permeable channels in mitochondrial outer membranes under physiological conditions. These pores are indeed good candidates for the pathway of release of pro-apoptotic proteins from the mitochondrial intermembrane space (IMS) into the cytosol to initiate intrinsic apoptosis. Here, we review recent findings on the regulation of ceramide channel formation and disassembly, highlighting possible implications on the initiation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway.
Abou-Ghali, M., & Stiban, J. (2015). Regulation of ceramide channel formation and disassembly: Insights on the initiation of apoptosis. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences, 22(6), 760–772. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjbs.2015.03.005