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FASEB J. 2009 Feb;23(2):405-14. doi: 10.1096/fj.08-117572. Epub 2008 Sep 29.

Role for sphingosine kinase 1 in colon carcinogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, 165 Ashley Ave., Ste. 309, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


Sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) phosphorylates sphingosine to form sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) and is a critical regulator of sphingolipid-mediated functions. Cell-based studies suggest a tumor-promoting function for the SphK1/S1P pathway. Also, our previous studies implicated the SphK1/S1P pathway in the induction of the arachidonic acid cascade, a major inflammatory pathway involved in colon carcinogenesis. Therefore, we investigated whether the SphK1/S1P pathway is necessary for mediating carcinogenesis in vivo. Here, we report that 89% (42/47) of human colon cancer samples stained positively for SphK1, whereas normal colon mucosa had negative or weak staining. Adenomas had higher expression of SphK1 vs. normal mucosa, and colon cancers with metastasis had higher expression of SphK1 than those without metastasis. In the azoxymethane (AOM) murine model of colon cancer, SphK1 and S1P were significantly elevated in colon cancer tissues compared to normal mucosa. Moreover, blood levels of S1P were higher in mice with colon cancers than in those without cancers. Notably, SphK1(-/-) mice subjected to AOM had significantly less aberrant crypt foci (ACF) formation and significantly reduced colon cancer development. These results are the first in vivo evidence that the SphK1/S1P pathway contributes to colon carcinogenesis and that inhibition of this pathway is a potential target for chemoprevention.

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