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Cancer Cell. 2007 Jun;11(6):473-5.

A CERTain role for ceramide in taxane-induced cell death.

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  • 1Program of Molecular Pharmacology and Chemistry, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA.


An unexpected benefit of functional genomic screens is that at times they answer questions that they were not designed to ask. A siRNA screen reported by Swanton et al. in this issue of Cancer Cell reveals that silencing of spindle assembly checkpoint genes facilitates mitotic slippage, resulting in escape from taxane-induced cell death, aneuploidy, and chromosomal instability, hallmarks of taxane resistance. Unexpectedly, the screen disclosed that the sphingolipid ceramide is a key regulator of the taxane-mediated spindle assembly checkpoint and taxane-induced cell death. Ceramide metabolism thus serves as a legitimate target for modulation of taxane effect on tumors.

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