Characterization of Plasma Membrane Ceramides by Super-Resolution Microscopy

Anne Burgert, Jan Schlegel, Jérôme Bécam, Sören Doose, Erhard Bieberich, Alexandra Schubert-Unkmeir, Markus Sauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The sphingolipid ceramide regulates cellular processes such as differentiation, proliferation, growth arrest, and apoptosis. Ceramide-rich membrane areas promote structural changes within the plasma membrane that segregate membrane receptors and affect membrane curvature and vesicle formation, fusion, and trafficking. Ceramides were labeled by immunocytochemistry to visualize their distribution on the plasma membrane of different cells with virtually molecular resolution by direct stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (dSTORM). Super-resolution images show that independent of labeling conditions and cell type 50–60 % of all membrane ceramides are located in ceramide-rich platforms (CRPs) with a size of about 75 nm that are composed of at least about 20 ceramides. Treatment of cells with Bacillus cereus sphingomyelinase (bSMase) increases the overall ceramide concentration in the plasma membrane, the quantity of CRPs, and their size. Simultaneously, the ceramide concentration in CRPs increases approximately twofold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6131-6135
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number22
StatePublished - May 22 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • ceramide-rich platforms
  • ceramides
  • dSTORM
  • sphingolipids
  • super-resolution microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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