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In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. 2002 Apr;38(4):246-53.

Sphingosine-1-phosphate stimulates human Caco-2 intestinal epithelial proliferation via p38 activation and activates ERK by an independent mechanism.

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Department of Surgery, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 48202, USA.


Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S-1-P) has been identified as an extracellular mediator and an intracellular second messenger that may modulate cell motility, adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation and cancer cell invasion. Widely distributed, S-1-P is most abundant in the intestine. Although S-1-P is likely to modulate various intracellular pathways, activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) such as extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1 (ERK1), ERK2, and p38 is among the best-characterized S-1-P effects. Because the MAPKs regulate proliferation, we hypothesized that S-1-P might stimulate intestinal epithelial cell proliferation by MAPK activation. Human Caco-2 intestinal epithelial cells were cultured on a fibronectin matrix because fibronectin is an important constituent of the gut mucosal basement membrane. We assessed ERK1, ERK2, and p38 activation by Western blotting with antibodies specific for their active forms and proliferation by Coulter counting at 24 h. Specific MAP kinase kinase (MEK) and p38 inhibitors PD98059 (20 microM) and SB202190 and SB203580 (10 and 20 microM) were used to probe the role of ERK and p38 in S-1-P-mediated proliferation. Three or more similar studies were pooled for the analysis. S-1-P stimulated Caco-2 proliferation and dose-responsively activated ERK1, ERK2, and p38. Proliferation peaked at 5 microM, yielding a cell number 166.3 +/- 2.7% of the vehicle control (n = 6, P < 0.05). S-1-P also maximally stimulated ERK1, ERK2, and p38 at 5 microM, to 164.4 +/- 19.9%, 232.2 +/- 38.5%, and 169.2 +/- 20.5% of the control, respectively. Although MEK inhibition prevented S-1-P activation of ERK1 and ERK2 and slightly but significantly inhibited basal Caco-2 proliferation, MEK inhibition did not block the S-1-P mitogenic effect. However, pretreatment with 10 microM SB202190 or SB203580 (putative p38 inhibitors) attenuated the stimulation of proliferation by S-1-P. Twenty micromolars of SB202190 or SB203580 completely blocked the mitogenic effect of S-1-P. Ten to twenty micromolars of SB202190 and SB203580 also dose-dependently ablated the effects of 5 microM S-1-P on heat shock protein 27 accumulation, a downstream consequence of p38 MAPK activation. Consistent with the reports in some other cell types, S-1-P appears to activate ERK1, ERK2, and p38 and to stimulate proliferation. However, in contrast to the mediation of the S-1-P effects in some other cell types, S-1-P appears to stimulate human intestinal epithelial proliferation by activating p38. ERK activation by S-1-P is not required for its mitogenic effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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