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Cancer Res. 2009 Dec 15;69(24):9346-53. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-2198.

Disruption of sphingosine 1-phosphate lyase confers resistance to chemotherapy and promotes oncogenesis through Bcl-2/Bcl-xL upregulation.

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INSERM U858 , France.


Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is a bioactive sphingolipid metabolite involved in cancer development through stimulation of cell survival, proliferation, migration, and angiogenesis. Irreversible degradation of S1P is catalyzed by S1P lyase (SPL). The human SGPL1 gene that encodes SPL maps to a region often mutated in cancers. To investigate the effect of SPL deficiency on cell survival and transformation, the susceptibility to anticancer drugs of fibroblasts generated from SPL-deficient mouse embryos (Sgpl1(-/-)) was compared with that of cells from heterozygous (Sgpl1(+/-)) or wild-type (Sgpl1(+/+)) embryos. First, loss of SPL caused resistance to the toxic effects of etoposide and doxorubicin. Interestingly, heterozygosity for the Sgpl1 gene resulted in partial resistance to apoptosis. Secondly, doxorubicin-induced apoptotic signaling was strongly inhibited in Sgpl1(-/-) cells (phosphatidylserine externalization, caspase activation, and cytochrome c release). This was accompanied by a strong increase in Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL protein content. Whereas correction of SPL deficiency in Sgpl1(-/-) cells led to downregulation of antiapoptotic proteins, Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown in SPL-deficient cells resulted in increased sensitivity to doxorubicin, suggesting that Bcl-2 upregulation mediates SPL protective effects. Moreover, SPL deficiency led to increased cell proliferation, anchorage-independent cell growth, and formation of tumors in nude mice. Finally, transcriptomic studies showed that SPL expression is downregulated in human melanoma cell lines. Thus, by affecting S1P metabolism and the expression of Bcl-2 members, the loss of SPL enhances cell resistance to anticancer regimens and results in an increased ability of cells to acquire a transformed phenotype and become malignant.

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