Desaturation of the sphingofungin polyketide tail results in increased serine palmitoyltransferase inhibition.
Serine palmitoyltransferase catalyzes the first step of the sphingolipid biosynthesis. Recently, sphingolipid homeostasis has been connected to several human diseases, making serine palmitoyltransferases an interesting therapeutic target. Known and efficient serine palmitoyltransferase-inhibitors are sphingofungins, a group of natural products isolated from fungi. To further characterize newly isolated sphingofungins, we designed an easy to use colorimetric serine palmitoyltransferase activity assay using FadD, which can be performed in 96-well plates. Because sphingofungins exert antifungal activitiy as well, we compared the in vitro assay results with an in vivo growth assay using Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The reported experiments showed differences among the assayed sphingofungins, highlighting an increase of activity based on the saturation levels of the polyketide tail. IMPORTANCE Targeting the cellular sphingolipid metabolism is often discussed as a potential approach to treat associated human diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Alternatively, it is also a possible target for the development of antifungal compounds, which are direly needed. A central role is played by the serine palmitoyltransferase, which catalyzes the initial and rate limiting step of sphingolipid de novo synthesis and, as such, the development of inhibitory compounds for this enzyme is of interest. Our work here established an alternative approach for determining the activity of serine palmitoyltransferase adding another tool for the validation of its inhibition. We also determined the effect of different modifications to sphingofungins on their inhibitory activity against serine palmitoyltransferase, revealing important differences on said activity against enzymes of bacterial and fungal origin.