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Skeletal formula of sphingosine
Space-filling model of the sphingosine molecule
IUPAC name
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.004.230 Edit this at Wikidata
Molar mass 299.499 g·mol−1
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Sphingosine (2-amino-4-trans-octadecene-1,3-diol) is an 18-carbon amino alcohol with an unsaturated hydrocarbon chain, which forms a primary part of sphingolipids, a class of cell membrane lipids that include sphingomyelin, an important phospholipid.


Sphingosine can be phosphorylated in vivo via two kinases, sphingosine kinase type 1 and sphingosine kinase type 2. This leads to the formation of sphingosine-1-phosphate, a potent signaling lipid.

Sphingolipid metabolites, such as ceramides, sphingosine and sphingosine-1-phosphate, are lipid signaling molecules involved in diverse cellular processes.


Sphingosine is synthesized from palmitoyl CoA and serine in a condensation required to yield dehydrosphingosine.

Sphingosine synthesis

Dehydrosphingosine is then reduced by NADPH to dihydrosphingosine (sphinganine), and finally oxidized by FAD to sphingosine.

There is no direct route of synthesis from sphinganine to sphingosine; it has to be acylated first to dihydroceramide, which is then dehydrogenated to ceramide. Sphingosine is formed via degradation of sphingolipid in the lysosome.

See also[edit]


  • Radin N (2003). "Killing tumours by ceramide-induced apoptosis: a critique of available drugs". Biochem J. 371 (Pt 2): 243–56. doi:10.1042/BJ20021878. PMC 1223313. PMID 12558497. article
  • Carter, H. E., F. J. Glick, W. P. Norris, and G. E. Phillips. 1947. Biochemistry of the sphingolipides. III. Structure of sphingosine. J. Biol. Chem. 170: 285–295

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