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Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Apr 1;17(7):1839-49. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-0720. Epub 2011 Feb 15.

Sphingosine kinase-1 enhances resistance to apoptosis through activation of PI3K/Akt/NF-κB pathway in human non-small cell lung cancer.

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State Key Laboratory of Oncology in Southern China, Department of Experimental Research, Cancer Center, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, PR China.



The present study was to examine the effect of sphingosine kinase-1 (SPHK1) on chemotherapeutics-induced apoptosis in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells, which is relatively insensitive to chemotherapy, and its clinical significance in NSCLC progression.


The correlation of SPHK1 expression and clinical features of NSCLC was analyzed in 218 paraffin-embedded archived NSCLC specimens by immunohistochemical analysis. The effect of SPHK1 on apoptosis induced by chemotherapeutics was examined both in vitro and in vivo, using Annexin V staining and TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling) assays. Western blotting and luciferase analysis were performed to examine the impact of SPHK1 on the PI3K/Akt/NF-κB signaling.


The expression of SPHK1 was markedly increased in NSCLC and correlated with tumor progression and poor survival of patients with NSCLC. Upregulation of SPHK1 significantly inhibited doxorubicin- or docetaxel-induced apoptosis, associated with induction of antiapoptotic proteins Bcl-xl, c-IAP1, c-IAP2, and TRAF1. In contrast, silencing SPHK1 expression or inhibiting SPHK1 activity with specific inhibitor, SK1-I, significantly enhanced the sensitivity of NSCLC cells to apoptosis induced by chemotherapeutics both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, we demonstrated that upregulation of SPHK1 activated the PI3K/Akt/NF-κB pathway, and that inhibition of the PI3K/Akt/NF-κB pathway abrogated the antiapoptotic effect of SPHK1 on NSCLC cells.


Our results suggest that SPHK1 is a potential pharmacologic target for the treatment of NSCLC and inhibition of SPHK1 expression or its kinase activity might represent a novel strategy to sensitize NSCLC to chemotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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