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The localisation of the T cell receptor and other signalling molecules in membrane microdomains (MM) is essential for the activation of T lymphocytes. These MM are stabilized by sphingolipids and cholesterol. It was recently shown that the activation of T lymphocytes leads to the confluence of small MM and the formation of an immunological synapse which is thought to be essential for a persistent activation and proliferation. We studied the effects of an inhibition of sphingolipid synthesis on T lymphocyte function. Both sphingolipid inhibitors, PDMP and myriocin, inhibited glucosphingolipids in whole cell lipid extracts and in MM. Both compounds inhibited the proliferation of superantigen-stimulated PBMC without inducing cell death. However, only the ceramide-like compound PDMP inhibited the expression of activation markers and the secretion of IFN-gamma which was not seen with myriocin treatment. The MM localisation of Lck and LAT was not significantly reduced in PDMP-treated cells. In conclusion, our results show that glucosphingolipids are necessary for cell growth of human T lymphocytes. However, inhibition of glucosphingolipid synthesis itself did not inhibit cellular activation. Our data show that glucosphingolipids - in contrast to cholesterol - are not essential for the stabilisation of MM.