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      Sphingolipid metabolism in cancer signalling and therapy

      Nature Reviews Cancer

      Springer Nature

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          Abstract

          Sphingolipids, including the two central bioactive lipids ceramide and sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), have opposing roles in regulating cancer cell death and survival, respectively, and there have been exciting developments in understanding how sphingolipid metabolism and signalling regulate these processes in response to anticancer therapy. Recent studies have provided mechanistic details of the roles of sphingolipids and their downstream targets in the regulation of tumour growth and response to chemotherapy, radiotherapy and/or immunotherapy using innovative molecular, genetic and pharmacological tools to target sphingolipid signalling nodes in cancer cells. For example, structure-function-based studies have provided innovative opportunities to develop mechanism-based anticancer therapeutic strategies to restore anti-proliferative ceramide signalling and/or inhibit pro-survival S1P-S1P receptor (S1PR) signalling. This Review summarizes how ceramide-induced cellular stress mediates cancer cell death through various mechanisms involving the induction of apoptosis, necroptosis and/or mitophagy. Moreover, the metabolism of ceramide for S1P biosynthesis, which is mediated by sphingosine kinase 1 and 2, and its role in influencing cancer cell growth, drug resistance and tumour metastasis through S1PR-dependent or receptor-independent signalling are highlighted. Finally, studies targeting enzymes involved in sphingolipid metabolism and/or signalling and their clinical implications for improving cancer therapeutics are also presented.

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          Most cited references 137

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          Molecular machinery for non-vesicular trafficking of ceramide.

          Synthesis and sorting of lipids are essential for membrane biogenesis; however, the mechanisms underlying the transport of membrane lipids remain little understood. Ceramide is synthesized at the endoplasmic reticulum and translocated to the Golgi compartment for conversion to sphingomyelin. The main pathway of ceramide transport to the Golgi is genetically impaired in a mammalian mutant cell line, LY-A. Here we identify CERT as the factor defective in LY-A cells. CERT, which is identical to a splicing variant of Goodpasture antigen-binding protein, is a cytoplasmic protein with a phosphatidylinositol-4-monophosphate-binding (PtdIns4P) domain and a putative domain for catalysing lipid transfer. In vitro assays show that this lipid-transfer-catalysing domain specifically extracts ceramide from phospholipid bilayers. CERT expressed in LY-A cells has an amino acid substitution that destroys its PtdIns4P-binding activity, thereby impairing its Golgi-targeting function. We conclude that CERT mediates the intracellular trafficking of ceramide in a non-vesicular manner.
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            Programmed cell death induced by ceramide.

            Sphingomyelin hydrolysis and ceramide generation have been implicated in a signal transduction pathway that mediates the effects of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and other agents on cell growth and differentiation. In many leukemic cells, TNF-alpha causes DNA fragmentation, which leads to programmed cell death (apoptosis). C2-ceramide (0.6 to 5 microM), a synthetic cell-permeable ceramide analog, induced internucleosomal DNA fragmentation, which was inhibited by zinc ion. Other amphiphilic lipids failed to induce apoptosis. The closely related C2-dihydroceramide was also ineffective, which suggests a critical role for the sphingolipid double bond. The effects of C2-ceramide on DNA fragmentation were prevented by the protein kinase C activator phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, which suggests the existence of two opposing intracellular pathways in the regulation of apoptosis.
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              Sphingosine-1-phosphate links persistent STAT3 activation, chronic intestinal inflammation, and development of colitis-associated cancer.

              Inflammatory bowel disease is an important risk factor for colorectal cancer. We show that sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) produced by upregulation of sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) links chronic intestinal inflammation to colitis-associated cancer (CAC) and both are exacerbated by deletion of Sphk2. S1P is essential for production of the multifunctional NF-κB-regulated cytokine IL-6, persistent activation of the transcription factor STAT3, and consequent upregulation of the S1P receptor, S1PR1. The prodrug FTY720 decreased SphK1 and S1PR1 expression and eliminated the NF-κB/IL-6/STAT3 amplification cascade and development of CAC, even in Sphk2(-/-) mice, and may be useful in treating colon cancer in individuals with ulcerative colitis. Thus, the SphK1/S1P/S1PR1 axis is at the nexus between NF-κB and STAT3 and connects chronic inflammation and CAC. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Cancer
                Nat Rev Cancer
                Springer Nature
                1474-175X
                1474-1768
                November 17 2017
                November 17 2017
                :
                :
                Article
                10.1038/nrc.2017.96
                5818153
                29147025
                © 2017
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