Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a cellular chemical sensor, controls cellular homeostasis, and sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), a bioactive intermediate of sphingolipid metabolism, is believed to have a role in immunity and inflammation, but their potential crosstalk is currently unknown. We aimed to determine whether there is a functional linkage between AhR signaling and sphingolipid metabolism. We showed that AhR ligands, including an environmental polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), induced S1P generation, and inhibited S1P lyase (S1PL) activity in resting cells, antigen/IgE-activated mast cells, and mouse lungs exposed to the AhR ligand alone or in combination with antigen challenge. The reduction of S1PL activity was due to AhR-mediated oxidation of S1PL at residue 317, which was reversible by the addition of an antioxidant or in cells with knockdown of the ORMDL3 gene encoding an ER transmembrane protein, whereas C317A S1PL mutant-transfected cells were resistant to the AhR-mediated effect. Furthermore, analysis of AhR ligand-treated cells showed a time-dependent increase of the ORMDL3–S1PL complex, which was confirmed by FRET analysis. This change increased the S1P levels, which in turn, induced mast cell degranulation via S1PR2 signaling. In addition, elevated levels of plasma S1P were found in children with asthma compared to non-asthmatic subjects. These results suggest a new regulatory pathway whereby the AhR–ligand axis induces ORMDL3-dependent S1P generation by inhibiting S1PL, which may contribute to the expression of allergic diseases.
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