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Nat Chem Biol. 2010 Jul;6(7):489-97. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.392.

An update on sphingosine-1-phosphate and other sphingolipid mediators.

Author information

  • 1Center for Cancer Research, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California, USA.

Erratum in

  • Nat Chem Biol. 2010 Sep;6(9):689.


Sphingolipids comprise a complex family of naturally occurring molecules that are enriched in lipid rafts and contribute to their unique biochemical properties. Membrane sphingolipids also serve as a reservoir for bioactive metabolites including sphingosine, ceramide, sphingosine-1-phosphate and ceramide-1-phosphate. Among these, sphingosine-1-phosphate has emerged as a central regulator of mammalian biology. Sphingosine-1-phosphate is essential for mammalian brain and cardiac development and for maturation of the systemic circulatory system and lymphatics. In addition, sphingosine-1-phosphate contributes to trafficking and effector functions of lymphocytes and other hematopoietic cells and protects against various forms of tissue injury. However, sphingosine-1-phosphate is also an oncogenic lipid that promotes tumor growth and progression. Recent preclinical and clinical investigations using pharmacological agents that target sphingosine-1-phosphate, its receptors and the enzymes required for its biosynthesis and degradation demonstrate the promise and potential risks of modulating sphingosine-1-phosphate signaling in treatment strategies for autoimmunity, cancer, cardiovascular disease and other pathological conditions.

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