The lysosomal degradation of sphingolipids takes place by the sequential action of specific hydrolases. Some of these enzymes require specific low-molecular mass, non-enzymic proteins: the sphingolipids activator proteins (coproteins). Saposin-A and saposin-C stimulate the hydrolysis of glucosylceramide by beta-glucosylceramidase (EC 22.214.171.124) and galactosylceramide by beta-galactosylceramidase (EC 126.96.36.199). Saposin-C apparently acts by combining with the enzyme and acidic lipid to form an activated complex, rather than by solubilizing the substrate. Saposin-B stimulates the hydrolysis of galacto-cerebroside sulfate by arylsulfatase A (EC 188.8.131.52), GM1 gangliosides by beta-galactosidase (EC 184.108.40.206) and globotriaosylceramide by alpha-galactosidase A (EC 220.127.116.11). Saposin-B forms a solubilizing complex with the substrates of the sphingolipid hydrolases. Saposin-D is a specific sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase activator (EC 18.104.22.168).
Involvement in disease
Defects in PSAP are the cause of combined saposin deficiency (CSAPD) [MIM:611721]; also known as prosaposin deficiency. CSAPD is due to absence of all saposins, leading to a fatal storage disorder with hepatosplenomegaly and severe neurological involvement. Defects in PSAP saposin-B region are the cause of leukodystrophy metachromatic due to saposin-B deficiency (MLD-SAPB) [MIM:249900]. MLD-SAPB is an atypical form of metachromatic leukodystrophy. It is characterized by tissue accumulation of cerebroside-3-sulfate, demyelination, periventricular white matter abnormalities, peripheral neuropathy. Additional neurological features include dysarthria, ataxic gait, psychomotr regression, seizures, cognitive decline and spastic quadriparesis. Defects in PSAP saposin-C region are the cause of atypical Gaucher disease (AGD) [MIM:610539]. Affected individuals have marked glucosylceramide accumulation in the spleen without having a deficiency of glucosylceramide-beta glucosidase characteristic of classic Gaucher disease, a lysosomal storage disorder. Defects in PSAP saposin-A region are the cause of atypical Krabbe disease (AKRD) [MIM:611722]. AKRD is a disorder of galactosylceramide metabolism. AKRD features include progressive encephalopathy and abnormal myelination in the cerebral white matter resembling Krabbe disease. Note=Defects in PSAP saposin-D region are found in a variant of Tay-Sachs disease (GM2-gangliosidosis).
This precursor is proteolytically processed to 4 small peptides, which are similar to each other and are sphingolipid hydrolase activator proteins. N-linked glycans show a high degree of microheterogeneity. The one residue extended Saposin-B-Val is only found in 5% of the chains.