Short Photoswitchable Ceramides Enable Optical Control of Apoptosis

Johannes Morstein, Matthijs Kol, Alexander J.E. Novak, Suihan Feng, Shadi Khayyo, Konstantin Hinnah, Nasi Li-Purcell, Grace Pan, Benjamin M. Williams, Howard Riezman, G. Ekin Atilla-Gokcumen, Joost C.M. Holthuis, Dirk Trauner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report short ceramide analogs that can be activated with light and further functionalized using azide-alkyne click chemistry. These molecules, termed scaCers, exhibit increased cell permeability compared to their long-chain analogs as demonstrated using mass spectrometry and imaging. Notably, scaCers enable optical control of apoptosis, which is not observed with long-chain variants. Additionally, they function as photoswitchable substrates for sphingomyelin synthase 2 (SMS2), exhibiting inverted light-dependence compared to their extended analogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-456
Number of pages5
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 19 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine


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