Squid nerve sphingomyelin containing an unusual sphingoid base

Yoko Ohashi, Takashi Tanaka, Satoko Akashi, Satoshi Morimoto, Yasuo Kishimoto, Yoshitaka Nagai

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34 Citations (Scopus)


A new methodology has been developed to determine sphingolipid structures by positive-ion fast atom bombardment tandem mass spectrometry (FAB-MS/MS). The method was verified by application to a structurally known glycosphingolipid, and then used in the structural study of an unusual sphingomyelin isolated from squid (Loligo pealei) nerve. Our previous study of this squid sphingomyelin indicated that the major base had a branched C19 alkyl chain with three double bonds, two of which were conjugated. The positions of the branching as well as the double bonds of this base were unambiguously determined by directly comparing the product ion spectra of the long-chain base ion (LCB+) of two ceramides, one derived from squid nerve sphingomyelin and another, glucosylceramide, obtained from starfish spermatozoa. The latter served as the standard because the structure had already been determined by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). The precursor ion here was LCB+, that is, [CH2 - C(NH2) = CHR]+, rather than [M + H]+, where R represents the backbone hydrocarbon chain counting from C-4. The results clearly showed that the squid nerve base is identical to the base derived from starfish (Asterias amurensis), that is, 2-amino-9-methyl-4,8,10- octadecatriene-1,3-diol. This is the first report in which the detailed structure of a branched polyunsaturated sphingoid base was studied by tandem mass spectrometry without derivatization or the aid of NMR. The occurrence of such an unusual sphingoid base in various phyla and tissues suggests the conjugated polyunsaturated branched sphingoid base plays a significant role in animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1118-1124
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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