Catalyzes the hydrolysis of sphingomyelin to form ceramide and phosphocholine. Ceramide mediates numerous cellular functions, such as apoptosis and growth arrest, and is capable of regulating these 2 cellular events independently. Also hydrolyzes sphingosylphosphocholine. Regulates the cell cycle by acting as a growth suppressor in confluent cells. Probably acts as a regulator of postnatal development and participates in bone and dentin mineralization.
Predominantly expressed in brain.
Belongs to the neutral sphingomyelinase family.
Up-regulated during G0/G1 phases.
Golgi apparatus membrane. Cell membrane. May localize to detergent-resistant subdomains of Golgi membranes of hypothalamic neurosecretory neurons. According to PubMed:15051724, it localizes to plasma membrane in confluent contact-inhibited cells.