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Exp Cell Res. 2004 Aug 15;298(2):593-601.

Sphingosine kinase activation regulates hepatocyte growth factor induced migration of endothelial cells.

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Department of Experimental Hematology, Beijing Institute of Radiation Medicine, Beijing 100850, People's Republic of China.


Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)-induced migration of endothelial cells is critical for angiogenesis. Sphingosine kinase (SPK) is a key enzyme catalyzing the formation of sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), a lipid messenger that is implicated in the regulation of a wide variety of important cellular events through both intracellular and extracellular mechanisms. The aim of this study was to investigate whether activation of SPK is involved in the migration of endothelial cells induced by HGF. The biological functions of HGF are mediated through the activation of its high-affinity tyrosine kinase receptor, c-met protooncogene. In the present study, Treatment of ECV304 endothelial cells with HGF resulted in tyrosine phosphorylation of c-Met and activation of SPK in a concentration-dependent manner. Either Ly294002 or PD98059, specific inhibitor of the PI3K and ERK/MAPK pathways, respectively, blocked the HGF-induced activation of SPK. HGF stimulation significantly increased intracellular S1P level, but no detectable secretion of S1P into the cell culture medium was observed. Treatment of ECV304 cells with pertussis toxin (PTX) has no effect on the HGF-induced migration, indicating extracellular S1P is dispensable for this process. Overexpression of wild-type SPK gene in ECV 304 cells increased the intracellular S1P and enhanced the HGF-induced migration, whereas inhibition of cellular SPK activity by N,N-dimethylsphingosine (DMS), a potent inhibitor of SPK, or by expression of a dominant-negative SPK (DN-SK) blocked the HGF-induced migration of ECV 304 cells. It is suggested that PI3K and ERK/MAPK mediated the activation of SPK and would be involved in the HGF-induced migration of endothelial cells. These results elucidate a novel mechanism by which intracellularly generated S1P mediates signaling from HGF/c-Met to the endothelial cell migration.

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