Gene Summary

Gene:SPHK1; sphingosine kinase 1
Aliases: SPHK
Summary:The protein encoded by this gene catalyzes the phosphorylation of sphingosine to form sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), a lipid mediator with both intra- and extracellular functions. Intracellularly, S1P regulates proliferation and survival, and extracellularly, it is a ligand for cell surface G protein-coupled receptors. This protein, and its product S1P, play a key role in TNF-alpha signaling and the NF-kappa-B activation pathway important in inflammatory, antiapoptotic, and immune processes. Phosphorylation of this protein alters its catalytic activity and promotes its translocation to the plasma membrane. Alternative splicing results in multiple transcript variants encoding different isoforms. [provided by RefSeq, Sep 2017]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:sphingosine kinase 1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 30 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 31 August 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 30 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: SPHK1 (cancer-related)

Hamdane N, Jühling F, Crouchet E, et al.
HCV-Induced Epigenetic Changes Associated With Liver Cancer Risk Persist After Sustained Virologic Response.
Gastroenterology. 2019; 156(8):2313-2329.e7 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an important risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Despite effective antiviral therapies, the risk for HCC is decreased but not eliminated after a sustained virologic response (SVR) to direct-acting antiviral (DAA) agents, and the risk is higher in patients with advanced fibrosis. We investigated HCV-induced epigenetic alterations that might affect risk for HCC after DAA treatment in patients and mice with humanized livers.
METHODS: We performed genome-wide ChIPmentation-based ChIP-Seq and RNA-seq analyses of liver tissues from 6 patients without HCV infection (controls), 18 patients with chronic HCV infection, 8 patients with chronic HCV infection cured by DAA treatment, 13 patients with chronic HCV infection cured by interferon therapy, 4 patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection, and 7 patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in Europe and Japan. HCV-induced epigenetic modifications were mapped by comparative analyses with modifications associated with other liver disease etiologies. uPA/SCID mice were engrafted with human hepatocytes to create mice with humanized livers and given injections of HCV-infected serum samples from patients; mice were given DAAs to eradicate the virus. Pathways associated with HCC risk were identified by integrative pathway analyses and validated in analyses of paired HCC tissues from 8 patients with an SVR to DAA treatment of HCV infection.
RESULTS: We found chronic HCV infection to induce specific genome-wide changes in H3K27ac, which correlated with changes in expression of mRNAs and proteins. These changes persisted after an SVR to DAAs or interferon-based therapies. Integrative pathway analyses of liver tissues from patients and mice with humanized livers demonstrated that HCV-induced epigenetic alterations were associated with liver cancer risk. Computational analyses associated increased expression of SPHK1 with HCC risk. We validated these findings in an independent cohort of patients with HCV-related cirrhosis (n = 216), a subset of which (n = 21) achieved viral clearance.
CONCLUSIONS: In an analysis of liver tissues from patients with and without an SVR to DAA therapy, we identified epigenetic and gene expression alterations associated with risk for HCC. These alterations might be targeted to prevent liver cancer in patients treated for HCV infection.

Cao XZ, Bin H, Zang ZN
MiR-128 suppresses the growth of thyroid carcinoma by negatively regulating SPHK1.
Biomed Pharmacother. 2019; 109:1960-1966 [PubMed] Related Publications
Accumulating evidences have emphasized the essential roles of differentially expressed miRNAs in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) and follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC) progression. MiR-128 has been reported to be down-regulated in multiple cancers to restrain tumor growth. However, the role of miR-128 in the development of PTC and FTC and the underlying mechanism remain to be unclear. In this present study, the results indicated that miR-128 expression was markedly down-regulated in PTC and FTC tissues and various thyroid carcinoma cell lines. Functional analysis indicated that over-expression of miR-128 suppressed PTC and FTC cancer cell growth, induced apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in G0/G1 phase. In addition, miR-128 over-expression markedly inhibited cancer cell migration and invasion. However, the processes above were reversed by silencing miR-128 expressions in thyroid tumor cells. Following, we characterized sphingosine kinase-1 (SPHK1) as a direct target of miR-128 that interacted with the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of SPHK1, and the results were confirmed by using luciferase-reporter assay. We also observed that SPHK1 expression was decreased and negatively correlated with miR-128 expression in PTC and FTC tissues clinically. Importantly, ectopic expression of SPHK1 significantly abrogated the tumor-suppressive effect induced by miR-128, as supported by the reduced apoptosis, while the enhanced proliferation and metastasis. Finally, over-expressing miR-128 apparently reduced the tumor growth rate and tumor weight in vivo using xenograft tumor model, accompanied with a remarkable decrease of SPHK1. Thus, our study illustrated that miR-128 might be a tumor suppressor microRNA that played an essential role in thyroid carcinoma progression.

Yuza K, Nakajima M, Nagahashi M, et al.
Different Roles of Sphingosine Kinase 1 and 2 in Pancreatic Cancer Progression.
J Surg Res. 2018; 232:186-194 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Pancreatic cancer is a disease with poor prognosis, and development of new treatments is necessary. Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), a bioactive lipid mediator produced by sphingosine kinases (SphK1 and SphK2), plays a critical role in progression of many types of cancer. However, little is known about the role of sphingosine kinases in pancreatic cancer. This study investigated the roles of sphingosine kinases in pancreatic cancer progression.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: S1P levels in pancreatic cancer and noncancerous pancreatic tissue were measured in 10 patients. We generated PAN02 murine pancreatic cancer cell lines with a clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated system genes 9 (Cas9)-mediated deletion of SphK1 or SphK2 and assessed cell growth and migration. In an animal model, we assessed the survival of mice injected with PAN02 cells intraperitoneally.
RESULTS: S1P levels in the pancreatic cancer tissue were significantly higher than those in noncancerous tissue. SphK1 knockout (KO) cells showed greater proliferation and migration than wild type (WT) cells, and SphK2 KO cells showed less proliferation and migration than WT cells. Animal experiments showed that the survival of mice injected with SphK1 KO cells was significantly shorter than those injected with WT cells, and the survival of mice injected with SphK2 KO cells was longer than those injected with WT cells. Surprisingly, cytotoxic assay using gemcitabine showed that SphK1 KO cells survived less than WT cells, and SphK2 KO cells survived more than WT cells.
CONCLUSIONS: S1P produced by SphK1 and SphK2 may have different functions in pancreatic cancer cells. Targeting both SphK1 and SphK2 may be a potential strategy for pancreatic cancer treatment.

Yu H, Chen Y, Jiang P
Circular RNA HIPK3 exerts oncogenic properties through suppression of miR-124 in lung cancer.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2018; 506(3):455-462 [PubMed] Related Publications
The current study tested the expression and potential functions of circular RNA HIPK3 (circHIPK3) in human lung cancer. Our results show that circHIPK3 expression is upregulated in established (A549 line) and primary human lung cancer cells, when compared to its low level in the lung epithelial cells. siRNA-mediated silencing of circHIPK3 potently inhibited survival and proliferation of lung cancer cells, but inducing significant apoptosis activation. Contrarily, forced overexpression of circHIPK3 by a lentiviral construct promoted lung cancer cell survival and proliferation. CircHIPK3 acted as a microRNA-124 (miR-124) sponger and regulated the expression of miR-124 mRNA targets, including SphK1, CDK4 and STAT3, in lung cancer cells. Transfection of miR-124 inhibitor significantly inhibited circHIPK3 siRNA-induced lung cancer cell death and apoptosis. At last, we show that circHIPK3 levels are upregulated in human lung cancer tissues, correlated with miR-124 downregulation. The miR-124 targets (SphK1, STAT3 and CDK4) are upregulated in lung cancer tissues. Together, we propose that circHIPK3 promotes lung cancer cell progression possibly by sponging miR-124. These observations indicate a possible novel therapeutic strategy involving circHIPK3-miR-124 pathway against lung cancer.

Wang Z, Qu H, Gong W, Liu A
Up-regulation and tumor-promoting role of SPHK1 were attenuated by miR-330-3p in gastric cancer.
IUBMB Life. 2018; 70(11):1164-1176 [PubMed] Related Publications
We intended to clarify the role of sphingosine kinase 1 (SPHK1) in gastric cancer (GC) using both in vitro and in vivo assays. The study was designed to identify novel therapeutic targets for GC treatment. Differential analysis was utilized to dissect two gene expression omnibus series (GSE49515 and GSE79973) microarray data form Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geo/) dataset. MRNA and protein expressions were determined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and Western blot, respectively. GC cell growth was measured by MTT assays and verified by in vivo analysis. Cell cycle and cell apoptosis were detected via flow cytometer observation. Cell migration and invasion were assessed by wound healing assays and Transwell assays. The targeting relationship between miRNA and SPHK1/S1PR1 was identified via dual-luciferase assay. Twenty-four common differentially expressed genes were screened out from two gene expression omnibus series (GSE49515 and GSE79973), among which SPHK1 was chosen for its higher fold change. We found elevated SPHK1 expression in GC tissues and cells, along with an increased concentration of SPHK1-generated sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) in both GC serum and tissue. SPHK1 knockdown significantly suppressed cell proliferation, migration, and invasion of MKN1 and KATO3 cells. It also blocked cell cycle and induced apoptosis in MKN1 and KATO3 cells. Silencing of SPHK1 also refrained tumor growth and inhibited S1P level. MiR-330-3p directly targeted SPHK1 and S1PR1. Overexpressed miR-330-3p in MKN1 cells repressed SPHK1 and S1PR1 expressions like their chemical inhibitors-SPHK1 inhibitors (FTY720) and S1PR1 inhibitors (VPC23019), and acted anti-tumor both in vitro and in vivo. Our study provides evidence that SPHK1 was promotive for GC tumor growth and cell biological behaviors, and that miR-330-3p targeted 3'-UTR of SPHK1 and inhibited its expression. SPHK1 was expected to become a new molecular marker and miR-330-3p a novel therapeutic target for GC. © 2018 IUBMB Life, 70(11):1164-1176, 2018.

Kim MH, Park JW, Lee EJ, et al.
C16‑ceramide and sphingosine 1‑phosphate/S1PR2 have opposite effects on cell growth through mTOR signaling pathway regulation.
Oncol Rep. 2018; 40(5):2977-2987 [PubMed] Related Publications
Recently, sphingolipid derivatives, such as ceramide and sphingosine‑1‑phosphate (S1P), have emerged as key modulators in apoptotic cell death and cell proliferation. This study aimed to clarify the underlying signaling pathways of ceramide and S1P involved in breast cancer cell proliferation. Ceramide acyl chain length is determined by six mammalian ceramide synthases (CerS). We overexpressed CerS1 to 6 in MCF‑7 cells to examine whether ceramide signaling propagation varies as a function of acyl chain length. Among the six CerS, only CerS6 overexpression reduced phosphorylation of Akt, S6 kinase (S6K), and extracellular signal‑regulated kinases (ERK) as shown by western blotting. In addition, CerS6 overexpression reduced MCF‑7 cell proliferation. This effect was partially reversed by co‑treatment with MHY1485, an activator of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), demonstrating an important role for the mTOR pathway in the CerS6‑mediated decrease in MCF‑7 cell proliferation. ERK inhibition, but not Akt inhibition, along with mTOR inhibition synergistically reduced MCF‑7 cell proliferation as measured by MTT assay. Notably, the expression of CerS6 and S1P receptor 2 (S1PR2), or CerS6 and sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1), were negatively correlated according to the invasive breast carcinoma patient cohort in The Cancer Genome Atlas database. In addition, both SphK1 overexpression and S1P addition increased mTOR phosphorylation as shown by ELISA, while S1PR2 inhibition had the inverse effect. These data suggest that CerS6 and SphK1 regulate mTOR signaling in breast cancer cell proliferation. Moreover, mTOR activity can be regulated by the balance between S1P and C16‑ceramide, which is generated by CerS6.

Allam RM, Al-Abd AM, Khedr A, et al.
Fingolimod interrupts the cross talk between estrogen metabolism and sphingolipid metabolism within prostate cancer cells.
Toxicol Lett. 2018; 291:77-85 [PubMed] Related Publications
Sphingolipids are critical regulators of tumor microenvironments and play an important role in estrogen-dependent cancers. Estrogen and estrogen metabolites were found to be involved in prostate cancer. Fingolimod (FTY720) is a sphingokinase-1 (SphK1) inhibitor with anticancer properties against various tumor cell types. Herein, we investigated the interference of FTY720 with the cross talk between sphingolipid metabolism and estrogen metabolism within prostate cancer cells. FTY720 showed cytotoxic antiproliferative effects against androgen-dependent and -independent prostate cancer cells with IC

Funaki M, Kitabayashi J, Shimakami T, et al.
Peretinoin, an acyclic retinoid, inhibits hepatocarcinogenesis by suppressing sphingosine kinase 1 expression in vitro and in vivo.
Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):16978 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Sphingosine-1-phospate is a potent bioactive lipid metabolite that regulates cancer progression. Because sphingosine kinase 1 and sphingosine kinase 2 (SPHK 1/2) are both essential for sphingosine-1-phospate production, they could be a therapeutic target in various cancers. Peretinoin, an acyclic retinoid, inhibits post-therapeutic recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma via unclear mechanisms. In this study, we assessed effects of peretinoin on SPHK expression and liver cancer development in vitro and in vivo. We examined effects of peretinoin on expression, enzymatic and promoter activity of SPHK1 in a human hepatoma cell line, Huh-7. We also investigated effects of SPHK1 on hepatocarcinogenesis induced by diethylnitrosamine using SPHK1 knockout mice. Peretinoin treatment of Huh-7 cells reduced mRNA levels, protein expression and enzymatic activity of SPHK1. Peretinoin reduced SPHK1 promoter activity; this effect of peretinoin was blocked by overexpression of Sp1, a transcription factor. Deletion of all Sp1 binding sites within the SPHK1 promoter region abolished SPHK1 promoter activity, suggesting that peretinoin reduced mRNA levels of SPHK1 via Sp1. Additionally, diethylnitrosamine-induced hepatoma was fewer and less frequent in SPHK1 knockout compared to wild-type mice. Our data showed crucial roles of SPHK1 in hepatocarcinogenesis and suggests that peretinoin prevents hepatocarcinogenesis by suppressing mRNA levels of SPHK1.

Maia LP, Santos PS, Alves PT, et al.
Altered Leukocyte Sphingolipid Pathway in Breast Cancer.
Int J Mol Sci. 2017; 18(12) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Sphingolipid metabolism pathway is essential in membrane homeostasis, and its dysfunction has been associated with favorable tumor microenvironment, disease progression, and chemotherapy resistance. Its major components have key functions on survival and proliferation, with opposing effects. We have profiled the components of the sphingolipid pathway on leukocytes of breast cancer (BC) patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment and without, including the five sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) receptors, the major functional genes, and cytokines, in order to better understand the S1P signaling in the immune cells of these patients. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first characterization of the sphingolipid pathway in whole blood of BC patients. Skewed gene profiles favoring high

Shimizu Y, Furuya H, Tamashiro PM, et al.
Genetic deletion of sphingosine kinase 1 suppresses mouse breast tumor development in an HER2 transgenic model.
Carcinogenesis. 2018; 39(1):47-55 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Aberrant sphingolipid metabolism has been reported to promote breast cancer progression. Sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) is a key metabolic enzyme for the formation of pro-survival S1P from pro-apoptotic ceramide. The role of SphK1 in breast cancer has been well studied in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer; however, its role in human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer remains unclear. Here, we show that genetic deletion of SphK1 significantly reduced mammary tumor development with reduced tumor incidence and multiplicity in the MMTV-neu transgenic mouse model. Gene expression analysis revealed significant reduction of claudin-2 (CLDN2) expression in tumors from SphK1 deficient mice, suggesting that CLDN2 may mediate SphK1's function. It is remarkable that SphK1 deficiency in HER2-positive breast cancer model inhibited tumor formation by the different mechanism from ER-positive breast cancer. In vitro experiments demonstrated that overexpression of SphK1 in ER-/PR-/HER2+ human breast cancer cells enhanced cell proliferation, colony formation, migration and invasion. Furthermore, immunostaining of SphK1 and CLDN2 in HER2-positive human breast tumors revealed a correlation in high-grade disease. Taken together, these findings suggest that SphK1 may play a pivotal role in HER2-positive breast carcinogenesis. Targeting SphK1 may represent a novel approach for HER2-positive breast cancer chemoprevention and/or treatment.

Haddadi N, Lin Y, Simpson AM, et al.
"Dicing and Splicing" Sphingosine Kinase and Relevance to Cancer.
Int J Mol Sci. 2017; 18(9) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Sphingosine kinase (SphK) is a lipid enzyme that maintains cellular lipid homeostasis. Two SphK isozymes, SphK1 and SphK2, are expressed from different chromosomes and several variant isoforms are expressed from each of the isozymes, allowing for the multi-faceted biological diversity of SphK activity. Historically, SphK1 is mainly associated with oncogenicity, however in reality, both SphK1 and SphK2 isozymes possess oncogenic properties and are recognized therapeutic targets. The absence of mutations of SphK in various cancer types has led to the theory that cancer cells develop a dependency on SphK signaling (hyper-SphK signaling) or "non-oncogenic addiction". Here we discuss additional theories of SphK cellular mislocation and aberrant "dicing and splicing" as contributors to cancer cell biology and as key determinants of the success or failure of SphK/S1P (sphingosine 1 phosphate) based therapeutics.

Martin JL, Julovi SM, Lin MZ, et al.
Inhibition of basal-like breast cancer growth by FTY720 in combination with epidermal growth factor receptor kinase blockade.
Breast Cancer Res. 2017; 19(1):90 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: New molecular targets are needed for women with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). This pre-clinical study investigated the combination of the EGFR inhibitor gefitinib with the sphingosine kinase (SphK) inhibitor FTY720 (Fingolimod), aiming to block tumorigenic signaling downstream of IGFBP-3, which is abundantly expressed in basal-like TNBC.
METHODS: In studies of breast cancer cell growth in culture, proliferation was monitored by IncuCyte live-cell imaging, and protein abundance was determined by western blotting. In vivo studies of mammary tumor growth used two models: orthotopic xenograft tumors derived from three basal-like TNBC cell lines, grown in immune-deficient mice, and syngeneic murine 4T1 tumors grown in immune-competent mice. Protein abundance in tumor tissue was assessed by immunohistochemistry.
RESULTS: Quantitated by live-cell imaging, the inhibitor combination showed synergistic cytostatic activity in basal-like cell lines across several TNBC molecular subtypes, the synergy being decreased by IGFBP-3 downregulation. Suppression of the tumorigenic mediator CD44 by gefitinib was potentiated by FTY720, consistent with CD44 involvement in the targeted pathway. In MDA-MB-468 and HCC1806 orthotopic TNBC xenograft tumors in nude mice, the drug combination inhibited tumor growth and prolonged mouse survival, although this effect was not significant for the gefitinib-resistant cell line HCC70. Combination treatment of murine 4T1 TNBC tumors in syngeneic BALB/c mice was more effective in immune-competent than immune-deficient (nude) mice, and a relative loss of tumor CD3 (T-cell) immunoreactivity caused by FTY720 treatment alone was alleviated by the drug combination, suggesting that, even at an FTY720 dose causing relative lymphopenia, the combination is still effective in an immune-competent setting. Immunohistochemistry of xenograft tumors showed significant enhancement of caspase-3 cleavage and suppression of Ki67 and phospho-EGFR by the drug combination, but SphK1 downregulation occurred only in MDA-MB-468 tumors, so is unlikely to be integral to treatment efficacy.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate that targeting IGFBP-3-dependent signaling pathways through gefitinib-FTY720 co-therapy may be effective in many basal-like breast cancers, and suggest tissue IGFBP-3 and CD44 measurement as potential biomarkers of treatment efficacy.

Tsai CH, Yang DY, Lin CY, et al.
Sphingosine-1-phosphate suppresses chondrosarcoma metastasis by upregulation of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 3 through suppressing miR-101 expression.
Mol Oncol. 2017; 11(10):1380-1398 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Chondrosarcoma is the second most common primary malignancy form of bone cancer, exhibiting resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy as well as developing high metastasis ability in late-stage tumors. Thus, understanding the metastatic processes of chondrosarcoma is considered a strategy for the treatment of this disease. Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), a bioactive sphingolipid, is produced intracellularly by sphingosine kinase (SphK) and is regarded as a second signaling molecule that regulates inflammation, proliferation, angiogenesis, and metastasis. However, the effect of S1P on chondrosarcoma remains uncertain. As demonstrated by the transwell, immunoblotting, and real-time PCR analyses, we found that S1P inhibited cell migration and MMP-2 expression through the upregulation of the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-3 (TIMP-3) expression in human chondrosarcoma cells. Additionally, we also showed that microRNA (miRNA)-101, which targets the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) of TIMP-3, decreased significantly following S1P treatment. After transfection with miR-101 mimics, the S1P-regulated cell migration and TIMP-3 expression were both reversed. Furthermore, we also showed that the S1P-inhibited cell migration is mediated through the c-Src/MEK/ERK signaling axis. Meanwhile, the in vivo study indicated that overexpression of SphK1 decreases chondrosarcoma metastasis to the lungs. Our results illustrate the clinical significance between SphK1, TIMP-3, and miR-101 in human chondrosarcoma patients. Taken together, our results suggest that S1P and miR-101 may prove to be potential therapeutic targets for future chondrosarcoma treatment.

Liu H, Ma Y, He HW, et al.
SPHK1 (sphingosine kinase 1) induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition by promoting the autophagy-linked lysosomal degradation of CDH1/E-cadherin in hepatoma cells.
Autophagy. 2017; 13(5):900-913 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
SPHK1 (sphingosine kinase 1), a regulator of sphingolipid metabolites, plays a causal role in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) through augmenting HCC invasion and metastasis. However, the mechanism by which SPHK1 signaling promotes invasion and metastasis in HCC remains to be clarified. Here, we reported that SPHK1 induced the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) by accelerating CDH1/E-cadherin lysosomal degradation and facilitating the invasion and metastasis of HepG2 cells. Initially, we found that SPHK1 promoted cell migration and invasion and induced the EMT process through decreasing the expression of CDH1, which is an epithelial marker. Furthermore, SPHK1 accelerated the lysosomal degradation of CDH1 to induce EMT, which depended on TRAF2 (TNF receptor associated factor 2)-mediated macroautophagy/autophagy activation. In addition, the inhibition of autophagy recovered CDH1 expression and reduced cell migration and invasion through delaying the degradation of CDH1 in SPHK1-overexpressing cells. Moreover, the overexpression of SPHK1 produced intracellular sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). In response to S1P stimulation, TRAF2 bound to BECN1/Beclin 1 and catalyzed the lysine 63-linked ubiquitination of BECN1 for triggering autophagy. The deletion of the RING domain of TRAF2 inhibited autophagy and the interaction of BECN1 and TRAF2. Our findings define a novel mechanism responsible for the regulation of the EMT via SPHK1-TRAF2-BECN1-CDH1 signal cascades in HCC cells. Our work indicates that the blockage of SPHK1 activity to attenuate autophagy may be a promising strategy for the prevention and treatment of HCC.

Shi WN, Cui SX, Song ZY, et al.
Overexpression of SphK2 contributes to ATRA resistance in colon cancer through rapid degradation of cytoplasmic RXRα by K48/K63-linked polyubiquitination.
Oncotarget. 2017; 8(24):39605-39617 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The resistance mechanisms that limit the efficacy of retinoid therapy in cancer are poorly understood. Sphingosine kinase 2 (SphK2) is a highly conserved enzyme that is mainly located in the nucleus and endoplasmic reticulum. Unlike well-studied sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) located in the cytosol, little has yet understood the functions of SphK2. Here we show that SphK2 overexpression contributes to the resistance of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) therapy in colon cancer through rapid degradation of cytoplasmic retinoid X receptor α (RXRα) by lysine 48 (K48)- and lysine 63 (K63)-based polyubiquitination. Human colonic adenocarcinoma HCT-116 cells transfected with SphK2 (HCT-116Sphk2 cells) demonstrate resistance to ATRA therapy as determined by in vitro and in vivo assays. Sphk2 overexpression increases the ATRA-induced nuclear RXRα export to cytoplasm and then rapidly degrades RXRα through the polyubiquitination pathway. We further show that Sphk2 activates the ubiquitin-proteasome system through the signal mechanisms of (1) K48-linked proteosomal degradation and (2) K63-linked ubiquitin-dependent autophagic degradation. These results provide new insights into the biological functions of Sphk2 and the molecular mechanisms that underlie the Sphk2-mediated resistance to retinoid therapy.

Hatoum D, Haddadi N, Lin Y, et al.
Mammalian sphingosine kinase (SphK) isoenzymes and isoform expression: challenges for SphK as an oncotarget.
Oncotarget. 2017; 8(22):36898-36929 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The various sphingosine kinase (SphK) isoenzymes (isozymes) and isoforms, key players in normal cellular physiology, are strongly implicated in cancer and other diseases. Mutations in SphKs, that may justify abnormal physiological function, have not been recorded. Nonetheless, there is a large and growing body of evidence demonstrating the contribution of gain or loss of function and the imbalance in the SphK/S1P rheostat to a plethora of pathological conditions including cancer, diabetes and inflammatory diseases. SphK is expressed as two isozymes SphK1 and SphK2, transcribed from genes located on different chromosomes and both isozymes catalyze the phosphorylation of sphingosine to S1P. Expression of each SphK isozyme produces alternately spliced isoforms. In recent years the importance of the contribution of SpK1 expression to treatment resistance in cancer has been highlighted and, additionally, differences in treatment outcome appear to also be dependent upon SphK isoform expression. This review focuses on an exciting emerging area of research involving SphKs functions, expression and subcellular localization, highlighting the complexity of targeting SphK in cancer and also comorbid diseases. This review also covers the SphK isoenzymes and isoforms from a historical perspective, from their first discovery in murine species and then in humans, their role(s) in normal cellular function and in disease processes, to advancement of SphK as an oncotarget.

Xu CY, Liu SQ, Qin MB, et al.
SphK1 modulates cell migration and EMT-related marker expression by regulating the expression of p-FAK in colorectal cancer cells.
Int J Mol Med. 2017; 39(5):1277-1284 [PubMed] Related Publications
Sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) plays an important role in colorectal carcinoma metastasis. However, whether SphK1 modulates epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related marker expression and the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In this study, in order to clarify this issue, we used various colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines, Caco2, HT29, RKO and HCT116. Each of the cell lines was divided into 3 groups as follows: the control group, SKI-Ⅱ (SphK1 inhibitor) group and PF-562271 [focal adhesion kinase (FAK) inhibitor] group. The migratory ability of the cells was examined by Transwell chamber assay. The mRNA and protein expression levels of SphK1, FAK (p-FAK), Slug, vimentin, N-cadherin and E-cadherin were detected by PCR and western blot analysis, respectively. The results revealed that the suppression of SphK1 reduced the cell migratory ability, and decreased the expression of Slug, vimentin and N-cadherin; however, the expression of E-cadherin was increased. Moreover, the inhibition of SphK1 reduced the expression of p-FAK. The inhibition of FAK (p-FAK) also decreased the cell migratory ability, and decreased the expression of Slug, vimentin and N-cadherin, whereas the expression of E-cadherin was increased. Thus, our data suggest that SphK1 modulates the expression of EMT-related markers and cell migration by regulating the expression of p-FAK in CRC cells. Thus, SphK1 may play a functional role in mediating the EMT process in CRC.

Kawakita Y, Motoyama S, Sato Y, et al.
Sphingosine-1-phosphate/sphingosine kinase 1-dependent lymph node metastasis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Surg Today. 2017; 47(11):1312-1320 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: To establish whether Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) and sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) contribute to lymph node metastasis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
METHODS: Immunohistochemical analysis of SphK1 expression was performed using a tissue microarray containing 177 thoracic squamous cell esophageal cancer specimens resected at surgery, to investigate the association between intratumoral SphK1 expression and lymph node metastasis. Serum S1P levels and intratumoral SphK1 mRNA and protein expression were also evaluated in mice with vs. mice without lymph node metastasis in a murine lymph node metastasis model.
RESULTS: Among 177 esophageal cancer patients, 127 (72%) were defined as being SphK1-positive. In univariate and multivariate analyses, SphK1 expression status was a significant factor contributing to lymph node metastasis and poorer 5-year overall survival. In the murine lymph node metastasis model, there was no difference in tumor volume or weight between the lymph node metastasis-negative and lymph node metastasis-positive groups. However, levels of SphK1 mRNA and protein and serum S1P levels were all much higher in the metastasis-positive group.
CONCLUSIONS: S1P/SphK1 may be novel targets for inhibiting lymph node metastasis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, and may provide the basis for a therapeutic strategy to suppress lymph node metastasis.

Lee HM, Lo KW, Wei W, et al.
Oncogenic S1P signalling in EBV-associated nasopharyngeal carcinoma activates AKT and promotes cell migration through S1P receptor 3.
J Pathol. 2017; 242(1):62-72 [PubMed] Related Publications
Undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a cancer with high metastatic potential that is consistently associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection. In this study, we have investigated the functional contribution of sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) signalling to the pathogenesis of NPC. We show that EBV infection or ectopic expression of the EBV-encoded latent genes (EBNA1, LMP1, and LMP2A) can up-regulate sphingosine kinase 1 (SPHK1), the key enzyme that produces S1P, in NPC cell lines. Exogenous addition of S1P promotes the migration of NPC cells through the activation of AKT; shRNA knockdown of SPHK1 resulted in a reduction in the levels of activated AKT and inhibition of cell migration. We also show that S1P receptor 3 (S1PR3) mRNA is overexpressed in EBV-positive NPC patient-derived xenografts and a subset of primary NPC tissues, and that knockdown of S1PR3 suppressed the activation of AKT and the S1P-induced migration of NPC cells. Taken together, our data point to a central role for EBV in mediating the oncogenic effects of S1P in NPC and identify S1P signalling as a potential therapeutic target in this disease. Copyright © 2017 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Wu X, Ruan L, Yang Y, Mei Q
Analysis of gene expression changes associated with human carcinoma-associated fibroblasts in non-small cell lung carcinoma.
Biol Res. 2017; 50(1):6 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: This study aimed to investigate the gene expression changes associated with carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) involving in non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC).
METHODS: We downloaded the GEO series GSE22862, which contained matched gene expression values for 15 CAF and normal fibroblasts samples, and series GSE27289 containing SNP genotyping for four matched NSCLC samples. The differentially expressed genes in CAF samples were identified using the limma package in R. Then we performed gene ontology (GO) and pathway enrichment analysis and protein-protein interaction (PPI) network construction using the identified DEGs. Moreover, aberrant cell fraction, ploidy, allele-specific copy number, and loss of heterozygosity (LOH) within CAF cells were analyzed using the allele-specific copy number analysis.
RESULTS: We obtained 545 differentially expressed genes between CAF and normal fibroblasts samples. The up-regulated genes are mainly involved in GO terms such as positive regulation of cell migration and extracellular region, while the down-regulated genes participate in the lung development and extracellular region. Multiple genes including bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) and transforming growth factor, beta 3 (TGFB3) are involved in the TGF-β signaling pathway. Genes including BMP4, TGFBI and matrix Gla protein (MGP) were hub genes. Moreover, no LOH event for BMP4 and MGP was found, that for sphingosine kinase 1 (SPHK1) was 70%, and for TGFBI was 40%.
CONCLUSION: Our data suggested that BMP4, MGP, TGFBI, and SPHK1 may be important in CAFs-associated NSCLC, and the abnormal expression and high LOH frequency of them may be used as the diagnosis targets of CAFs in NSCLC.

Zhao Y, Ling Z, Hao Y, et al.
MiR-124 acts as a tumor suppressor by inhibiting the expression of sphingosine kinase 1 and its downstream signaling in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
Oncotarget. 2017; 8(15):25005-25020 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
By analyzing the expression profile of microRNAs in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC), we found that the expression level of miR-124 was 4.59-fold lower in tumors than in normal tissues. To understand its functions, we generated a miR-124-expressing subline (JHU-22miR124) and a mock vector-transfected subline (JHU-22vec) by transfecting the mimic of miR-124 into JHU-22 cancer cells. Restored expression of miR-124 in JHU-22miR124 cells led to reduced cell proliferation, delayed colony formation, and decreased tumor growth, indicating a tumor-suppressive effect of miR-124. Subsequent target search revealed that the 3'-UTR of SphK1 mRNA carries a complementary site for the seed region of miR-124. SphK1 was also detected to be overexpressed in HNSCC cell lines, but down-expressed in JHU-22miR124 cells and tumor xenografts. These results suggest that SphK1 is a target of miR-124. To confirm this finding, we constructed a 3'-UTR-Luc-SphK1 vector and a binding site-mutated luciferase reporter vector. Co-transfection of 3'-UTR-Luc-SphK1 with miR-124 expression vector exhibited a 9-fold decrease in luciferase activity compared with mutated vector, suggesting that miR-124 inhibits SphK1 activity directly. Further studies on downstream signaling demonstrated accumulation of ceramide, increased expression of the pro-apoptotic Bax, BAD and PARP, decreased expression of the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL, and enhanced expression of cytochrome c and caspase proteins in JHU-22miR124 compared with JHU-22vec cells and tumor xenografts. We conclude that miR-124 acts as a tumor suppressor in HNSCC by directly inhibiting SphK1 activity and its downstream signals.

Lu PH, Chen MB, Liu YY, et al.
Identification of sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) as a primary target of icaritin in hepatocellular carcinoma cells.
Oncotarget. 2017; 8(14):22800-22810 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly aggressive neoplasm. We aim to explore the anti-HCC activity by a natural prenylflavonoid icaritin. Icaritin was cytotoxic and pro-apoptotic when added to established (HepG2, KYN-2 and Huh-7 lines) and primary human HCC cells. At the signaling level, icaritin inhibited sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) activity in HCC cells, which led to pro-apoptotic ceramide production and JNK1 activation. SphK1 inhibition or silence (by shRNA/microRNA) mimicked icaritin-mediated cytotoxicity, and almost nullified icaritin's activity in HepG2 cells. Reversely, exogenous over-expression of SphK1 sensitized icaritin-induced HepG2 cell apoptosis. In vivo, oral administration of icaritin dramatically inhibited HepG2 xenograft growth in SCID mice. Further, SphK1 activity in icaritin-treated tumors was largely inhibited. In summary, icaritin exerts potent anti-HCC activity in vitro and in vivo. SphK1 inhibition could be the primary mechanism of its actions in HCC cells.

Vishwakarma S, Agarwal R, Goel SK, et al.
Altered Expression of Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Metabolizing Enzymes in Oral Cancer Correlate With Clinicopathological Attributes.
Cancer Invest. 2017; 35(2):139-141 [PubMed] Related Publications
We have determined the gene expression of sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) metabolizing enzymes (SphK1, SphK2, SGPL1, SGPP1, SGPP2, PPAP2A, PPAP2B, and PPAP2C) by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in tumor tissues and adjacent normal tissues of 50 oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) patients. Expression of SphK1 and SGPP1 genes was up-regulated significantly in 70% and 75% OSCC tumors respectively. Importantly, expression of SphK2 and PPAP2B was down-regulated in the tumor tissues of 70% OSCC patients. Expression of SphK2 and PPAP2B negatively correlated with tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) staging and tumor volume respectively. Furthermore, LPP1 is an independent predictor of TNM staging and lymph node ratio.

Powell JA, Lewis AC, Zhu W, et al.
Targeting sphingosine kinase 1 induces MCL1-dependent cell death in acute myeloid leukemia.
Blood. 2017; 129(6):771-782 [PubMed] Related Publications
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive malignancy where despite improvements in conventional chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation, overall survival remains poor. Sphingosine kinase 1 (SPHK1) generates the bioactive lipid sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) and has established roles in tumor initiation, progression, and chemotherapy resistance in a wide range of cancers. The role and targeting of SPHK1 in primary AML, however, has not been previously investigated. Here we show that SPHK1 is overexpressed and constitutively activated in primary AML patient blasts but not in normal mononuclear cells. Subsequent targeting of SPHK1 induced caspase-dependent cell death in AML cell lines, primary AML patient blasts, and isolated AML patient leukemic progenitor/stem cells, with negligible effects on normal bone marrow CD34

Liang W, Xie Z, Cui W, et al.
Comprehensive gene and microRNA expression profiling reveals a role for miRNAs in the oncogenic roles of SphK1 in papillary thyroid cancer.
J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2017; 143(4):601-611 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: The oncogenic roles of sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) in various cancers, including thyroid cancer, have been well demonstrated. However, the microRNAs (miRNAs) associated with the oncogenic roles of SphK1 remain largely unknown.
METHODS: Global gene and miRNA expression in TPC1-Vector and TPC1-SphK1 cells was analyzed using digital gene expression (DGE) analysis and small RNA-seq, respectively. miRNA-mRNA interactions were explored by microT-CDS, and the predicted networks were visualized using CytoScape
RESULTS: In this study, we found that overexpression of SphK1 differentially regulates the expression of 46 miRNAs and 506 mRNAs in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) TPC1 cells. Combining bioinformatics predictions of mRNA targets with DGE data on mRNA expression allowed us to identify the mRNA targets of deregulated miRNAs. The direct interaction between miR-144-3p and FN1, which mediates the pro-invasive role of SphK1 in PTC cells, was experimentally validated.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrated that SphK1 overexpression drives a regulatory network governing miRNA and mRNA expression in PTC cells. We also demonstrated the roles played by miR-144-3p and FN1 in mediating the oncogenic function of SphK1, which enhanced the understanding of the etiology of PTC.

Evangelisti C, Evangelisti C, Buontempo F, et al.
Therapeutic potential of targeting sphingosine kinases and sphingosine 1-phosphate in hematological malignancies.
Leukemia. 2016; 30(11):2142-2151 [PubMed] Related Publications
Sphingolipids, such as ceramide, sphingosine and sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) are bioactive molecules that have important functions in a variety of cellular processes, which include proliferation, survival, differentiation and cellular responses to stress. Sphingolipids have a major impact on the determination of cell fate by contributing to either cell survival or death. Although ceramide and sphingosine are usually considered to induce cell death, S1P promotes survival of cells. Sphingosine kinases (SPHKs) are the enzymes that catalyze the conversion of sphingosine to S1P. There are two isoforms, SPHK1 and SPHK2, which are encoded by different genes. SPHK1 has recently been implicated in contributing to cell transformation, tumor angiogenesis and metastatic spread, as well as cancer cell multidrug-resistance. More recent findings suggest that SPHK2 also has a role in cancer progression. This review is an overview of our understanding of the role of SPHKs and S1P in hematopoietic malignancies and provides information on the current status of SPHK inhibitors with respect to their therapeutic potential in the treatment of hematological cancers.

Beider K, Rosenberg E, Bitner H, et al.
The Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Modulator FTY720 Targets Multiple Myeloma via the CXCR4/CXCL12 Pathway.
Clin Cancer Res. 2017; 23(7):1733-1747 [PubMed] Related Publications

Li J, Wu H, Li W, et al.
Downregulated miR-506 expression facilitates pancreatic cancer progression and chemoresistance via SPHK1/Akt/NF-κB signaling.
Oncogene. 2016; 35(42):5501-5514 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The aberrant expression of microRNAs (miRNAs) has emerged as an important hallmark of cancer. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the changes in miRNA expression remain unclear. In this study, we discovered a novel epigenetic mechanism of miR-506 regulation and investigated its functional significance in pancreatic cancer. Sequencing analysis revealed that the miR-506 promoter is highly methylated in pancreatic cancer tissues compared with non-cancerous tissues. Reduced miR-506 expression was significantly associated with clinical stage, pathologic tumor status, distant metastasis and decreased survival of pancreatic cancer patients. miR-506 inhibited cell proliferation, induced cell cycle arrest at the G1/S transition and enhanced apoptosis and chemosensitivity of pancreatic cancer cells. Furthermore, we identified sphingosine kinase 1 (SPHK1) as a novel target of miR-506, the expression of which inhibited the SPHK1/Akt/NF-κB signaling pathway, which is activated in pancreatic cancer. High SPHK1 expression was significantly associated with poor survival in a large cohort of pancreatic cancer specimens. Our data suggest that miR-506 acts as a tumor suppressor miRNA and is epigenetically silenced in pancreatic cancer. The newly identified miR-506/SPHK1 axis represents a novel therapeutic strategy for future pancreatic cancer treatment.

Zhou Y, Han Y, Zhang Z, et al.
MicroRNA-124 upregulation inhibits proliferation and invasion of osteosarcoma cells by targeting sphingosine kinase 1.
Hum Cell. 2017; 30(1):30-40 [PubMed] Related Publications
Increasing evidence has confirmed that the dysregulation of microRNAs (miRNAs) contributes to the proliferation and invasion of human cancers. Previous studies have shown that the dysregulation of miR-124 is in numerous cancers. However, the roles of miR-124 in human osteosarcoma (OS) have not been well clarified. Therefore, this study was to investigate the biological functions and molecular mechanisms of miR-124 in OS cell lines, discussing whether it could be a therapeutic biomarker of OS in the future. In this study, our results demonstrated that miR-124 was down-regulated in OS cell lines and tissues. Furthermore, the low level of miR-124 was associated with increased expression of Sphingosine kinase 1 (SPHK1) in OS cells and tissues. Up-regulation of miR-124 significantly inhibited cell proliferation, invasion, and MMP-2 and -9 expressions of OS cells. Bioinformatics analysis predicted that the SPHK1 was a potential target of miR-124. Further study by luciferase reporter assay demonstrated that miR-124 could directly target SPHK1. Overexpression of SPHK1 in OS cells transfected with miR-124 mimic partially reversed the inhibitory of miR-124. In conclusion, miR-124 inhibited cell proliferation and invasion in OS cells by downregulation of SPHK1, and that downregulation of SPHK1 was essential for the miR-124-inhibited cell invasion and in OS cells.

Tsuchida J, Nagahashi M, Nakajima M, et al.
Breast cancer sphingosine-1-phosphate is associated with phospho-sphingosine kinase 1 and lymphatic metastasis.
J Surg Res. 2016; 205(1):85-94 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), a pleiotropic bioactive lipid mediator, has been implicated as a key regulatory molecule in cancer through its ability to promote cell proliferation, migration, angiogenesis, and lymphangiogenesis. Previous studies suggested that S1P produced by sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) in breast cancer plays important roles in progression of disease and metastasis. However, the associations between S1P and clinical parameters in human breast cancer have not been well investigated to date.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We determined levels of S1P and other sphingolipids in breast cancer tissue by electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry. Associations between S1P levels and clinicopathologic features of the tumors were analyzed. Expression of phospho-SphK1 (pSphK1) in breast cancer tissues was determined by immunohistochemical scoring.
RESULTS: Levels of S1P in breast cancer tissues were significantly higher in patients with high white blood cell count in the blood than those patients without. S1P levels were lower in patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 overexpression and/or amplification than those patients without. Furthermore, cancer tissues with high pSphK1 expression showed significantly higher levels of S1P than cancer tissues without. Finally, patients with lymph node metastasis showed significantly higher levels of S1P in tumor tissues than the patients with negative nodes.
CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that high expression of pSphK1 is associated with higher levels of S1P, which in turn is associated with lymphatic metastasis in breast cancer.

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