Gene Summary

Gene:SMPD1; sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase 1
Summary:The protein encoded by this gene is a lysosomal acid sphingomyelinase that converts sphingomyelin to ceramide. The encoded protein also has phospholipase C activity. Defects in this gene are a cause of Niemann-Pick disease type A (NPA) and Niemann-Pick disease type B (NPB). Multiple transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been identified. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2010]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase
Source:NCBIAccessed: 09 March, 2017


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 10 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 09 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (3)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: SMPD1 (cancer-related)

Mizutani N, Omori Y, Kawamoto Y, et al.
Resveratrol-induced transcriptional up-regulation of ASMase (SMPD1) of human leukemia and cancer cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2016; 470(4):851-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Resveratrol (RSV) is a plant-derived phytoalexin present in plants, whose pleiotropic effects for health benefits have been previously reported. Its anti-cancer activity is among the current topics for novel cancer treatment. Here, effects of RSV on cell proliferation and the sphingolipid metabolism of K562, a human leukemia cell line, were analyzed. Some experiments were also performed in HCT116, a human colon cancer cell line. RSV inhibited cell proliferation of both cell lines. Increased cellular ceramide and decreased sphingomyelin and S1P by RSV were observed in RSV-treated K562 cells. Further analysis revealed that acid sphingomyelinase mRNA and enzyme activity levels were increased by RSV. Desipramine, a functional ASMase inhibitor, prevented RSV-induced ceramide increase. RSV increased ATF3, EGR1, EGR3 proteins and phosphorylated c-Jun and FOXO3. However, co-transfection using these transcription factor expression vectors and ASMase promoter reporter vector revealed positive effects of EGR1 and EGR3 but not others. Electrophoresis mobility shift assay (EMSA) and Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay demonstrated the direct binding of EGR1/3 transcription factors with ASMase 5'-promoter. These results indicate that increased EGR1/3 and ASMase expression play an important role in cellular ceramide increase by RSV treatment.

Codini M, Cataldi S, Lazzarini A, et al.
Why high cholesterol levels help hematological malignancies: role of nuclear lipid microdomains.
Lipids Health Dis. 2016; 15:4 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Diet and obesity are recognized in the scientific literature as important risk factors for cancer development and progression. Hypercholesterolemia facilitates lymphoma lymphoblastic cell growth and in time turns in hypocholesterolemia that is a sign of tumour progression. The present study examined how and where the cholesterol acts in cancer cells when you reproduce in vitro an in vivo hypercholesterolemia condition.
METHODS: We used non-Hodgkin's T cell human lymphoblastic lymphoma (SUP-T1 cell line) and we studied cell morphology, aggressiveness, gene expression for antioxidant proteins, polynucleotide kinase/phosphatase and actin, cholesterol and sphingomyelin content and finally sphingomyelinase activity in whole cells, nuclei and nuclear lipid microdomains.
RESULTS: We found that cholesterol changes cancer cell morphology with the appearance of protrusions together to the down expression of β-actin gene and reduction of β-actin protein. The lipid influences SUP-T1 cell aggressiveness since stimulates DNA and RNA synthesis for cell proliferation and increases raf1 and E-cadherin, molecules involved in invasion and migration of cancer cells. Cholesterol does not change GRX2 expression but it overexpresses SOD1, SOD2, CCS, PRDX1, GSR, GSS, CAT and PNKP. We suggest that cholesterol reaches the nucleus and increases the nuclear lipid microdomains known to act as platform for chromatin anchoring and gene expression.
CONCLUSION: The results imply that, in hypercholesterolemia conditions, cholesterol reaches the nuclear lipid microdomains where activates gene expression coding for antioxidant proteins. We propose the cholesterolemia as useful parameter to monitor in patients with cancer.

Valent P
Diagnosis and management of mastocytosis: an emerging challenge in applied hematology.
Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program. 2015; 2015:98-105 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mastocytosis is a unique and rare neoplasm defined by abnormal expansion and accumulation of clonal mast cells (MCs) in one or multiple organ systems. Most adult patients are diagnosed to have systemic mastocytosis (SM). Based on histological findings and disease-related organ damage, SM is classified into indolent SM (ISM), smoldering SM (SSM), SM with an associated hematologic non-MC-lineage disease (SM-AHNMD), aggressive SM (ASM), and MC leukemia (MCL). The clinical picture, course, and prognosis vary profoundly among these patients. Nonetheless, independent of the category of SM, neoplastic cells usually exhibit the KIT point-mutation D816V. However, in advanced SM, additional molecular defects are often detected and are considered to contribute to disease progression and drug resistance. These lesions include, among others, somatic mutations in TET2, SRSF2, ASXL1, CBL, RUNX1, and RAS. In SM-AHNMD, such mutations are often found in the "AHNMD component" of the disease. Clinical symptoms in mastocytosis result from (1) the release of proinflammatory and vasoactive mediators from MCs, and (2) SM-induced organ damage. Therapy of SM has to be adjusted to the individual patient and the SM category: in those with ISM and SSM, the goal is to control mediator secretion and/or mediator effects, to keep concomitant allergies under control, and to counteract osteoporosis, whereas in advanced SM (ASM, MCL, and SM-AHNMD) anti-neoplastic drugs are prescribed to suppress MC expansion and/or to keep AHNMD cells under control. Novel drugs directed against mutated KIT and/or other oncogenic kinase targets are tested currently in these patients. In rapidly progressing and drug-resistant cases, high-dose polychemotherapy and stem cell transplantation have to be considered.

Dasgupta S, Dutta J, Annamaneni S, et al.
Association of vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms with polycystic ovary syndrome among Indian women.
Indian J Med Res. 2015; 142(3):276-85 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVES: The Vitamin-D receptor (VDR) regulates vitamin D levels and calcium metabolism in the body and these are known to be associated with endocrine dysfunctions, insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Studies on VDR polymorphisms among PCOS women are sparse. We undertook this study to investigate the association pattern of VDR polymorphisms (Cdx2, Fok1, Apa1 and Taq1) with PCOS among Indian women.
METHODS: For the present study, 250 women with PCOS and 250 normal healthy control women were selected from Hyderabad city, Telangana, India. The four VDR polymorphisms were genotyped and analysed using ASM-PCR (allele specific multiple PCR) and PCR-RFLP (restriction fragment length polymorphism).
RESULTS: The genotype and allele frequency distributions of only Cdx2 showed significant difference between the PCOS cases and control women, indicating protective role of this SNP against PCOS phenotype. However, significant association was observed between VDR genotypes and some of the PCOS specific clinical/biochemical traits. For example, Fok1 showed a significant genotypic difference for the presence of infertility and Cdx2 genotpes showed association with testosterone levels. Further, the two haplotypes, ACCA and ACTA, were found to be significantly associated with PCOS indicating haplotype specific risk.
INTERPRETATION & CONCLUSIONS: Although VDR polymorphisms have not shown significant association with PCOS, in view of functional significance of the SNPs considered, one cannot yet rule out the possibility of their association with PCOS. Further, specifically designed studies on large cohorts are required to conclusively establish the role of VDR polymorphisms in PCOS, particularly including data on vitamin D levels.

Bose RN, Moghaddas S, Belkacemi L, et al.
Absence of Activation of DNA Repair Genes and Excellent Efficacy of Phosphaplatins against Human Ovarian Cancers: Implications To Treat Resistant Cancers.
J Med Chem. 2015; 58(21):8387-401 [PubMed] Related Publications
Phosphaplatins, platinum(II) and platinum(IV) complexes coordinated to a pyrophosphate moiety, exhibit excellent antitumor activities against a variety of cancers. To determine whether phosphaplatins trigger resistance to treatment by engaging DNA damage repair genes, a yeast genome-wide fitness assay was used. Treatment of yeast cells with pyrodach-2 (D2) or pyrodach-4 (D4) revealed no particular sensitivity to nucleotide excision repair, homologous recombination repair, or postreplication repair when compared with platin control compounds. Also, TNF receptor superfamily member 6 (FAS) protein was overexpressed in phosphaplatin-treated ovarian tumor cells, and platinum colocalized with FAS protein in lipid rafts. An overactivation of sphingomyelinase (ASMase) was noted in the treated cells, indicating participation of an extrinsic apoptotic mechanism due to increased ceramide release. Our results indicate that DNA is not the target of phosphaplatins and accordingly, that phosphaplatins might not cause resistance to treatment. Activation of ASMase and FAS along with the colocalization of platinum with FAS in lipid rafts support an extrinsic apoptotic signaling mechanism that is mediated by phosphaplatins.

Trino S, De Luca L, Simeon V, et al.
Inverse regulation of bridging integrator 1 and BCR-ABL1 in chronic myeloid leukemia.
Tumour Biol. 2016; 37(1):217-25 [PubMed] Related Publications
Endocytosis is the major regulator process of tyrosine kinase receptor (RTK) functional activities. Bridging integrator 1 (BIN1) is a key protein involved in RTK intracellular trafficking. Here, we report, by studying 34 patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) at diagnosis, that BIN1 gene is downregulated in CML as compared to healthy controls, suggesting an altered endocytosis of RTKs. Rab interactor 1 (RIN1), an activator of BIN1, displayed a similar behavior. Treatment of 57 patients by tyrosine kinase inhibitors caused, along with BCR-ABL1 inactivation, an increase of BIN1 and RIN1 expression, potentially restoring endocytosis. There was a significant inverse correlation between BIN1-RIN1 and BCR-ABL1 expression. In vitro experiments on both CML and nontumorigenic cell lines treated with Imatinib confirmed these results. In order to provide another proof in favor of BIN1 and RIN1 endocytosis function in CML, we demonstrated that Imatinib induced, in K562 cell line, BIN1-RIN1 upregulation accompanied by a parallel AXL receptor internalization into cytoplasmic compartment. This study shows a novel deregulated mechanism in CML patients, indicating BIN1 and RIN1 as players in the maintenance of the abnormal RTK signaling in this hematological disease.

Dai SY, Liu JJ, Sun XF, Wang N
Acid sphingomyelinase, a novel negative biomarker of ovarian cancer.
Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015; 19(11):2076-83 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer and the main cause of death in women. However, the molecular mechanism for the cause of the ovarian cancer has not been fully elucidated. Acid sphingomyelinase (ASM), a lipid hydrolase, has been suggested for treating cancer and may affect the development of ovarian cancer. We want to find the function of ASM in the development of ovarian cancer.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Human ovarian cancer cells HO 8910 (HOCC) and human primary ovarian cells (HPOC) were transfected with ASM gene and ASM RNAi. Real-time qPCR and western blot analysis was carried out to examine the level of ASM. The growth rate of transfected and non-transfected cells was measured. Ovarian biopsies were collected from 80 ovarian cancer patients and 20 healthy subjects.
RESULTS: The growth rate of HOCC and HPOC was decreased by 22% and 19% in the ASM-transfected group compared with non-transfected group. Inversely, the growth rate of HOCC and HPOC was increased by 16% and 35% in the ASM-RNAi-transfected group compared with non-transfected group. In the transfected and non-transfected cells, the change level of SAM was approved by Real-time qPCR and western blot analysis. The levels of SAM were reducing with the development of ovarian cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: SAM is higher expressed in normal cell than that in ovarian cancer, and can be a negative biomarker for the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. SAM can be developed a new drug for the ovarian cancer therapy.

Wedeh G, Cerny-Reiterer S, Eisenwort G, et al.
Identification of bromodomain-containing protein-4 as a novel marker and epigenetic target in mast cell leukemia.
Leukemia. 2015; 29(11):2230-7 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Advanced systemic mastocytosis (SM) is a life-threatening neoplasm characterized by uncontrolled growth and accumulation of neoplastic mast cells (MCs) in various organs and a poor survival. So far, no curative treatment concept has been developed for these patients. We identified the epigenetic reader bromodomain-containing protein-4 (BRD4) as novel drug target in aggressive SM (ASM) and MC leukemia (MCL). As assessed by immunohistochemistry and PCR, neoplastic MCs expressed substantial amounts of BRD4 in ASM and MCL. The human MCL lines HMC-1 and ROSA also expressed BRD4, and their proliferation was blocked by a BRD4-specific short hairpin RNA. Correspondingly, the BRD4-targeting drug JQ1 induced dose-dependent growth inhibition and apoptosis in HMC-1 and ROSA cells, regardless of the presence or absence of KIT D816V. In addition, JQ1 suppressed the proliferation of primary neoplastic MCs obtained from patients with ASM or MCL (IC50: 100-500 nm). In drug combination experiments, midostaurin (PKC412) and all-trans retinoic acid were found to cooperate with JQ1 in producing synergistic effects on survival in HMC-1 and ROSA cells. Taken together, we have identified BRD4 as a promising drug target in advanced SM. Whether JQ1 or other BET-bromodomain inhibitors are effective in vivo in patients with advanced SM remains to be elucidated.

Ordoñez R, Fernández A, Prieto-Domínguez N, et al.
Ceramide metabolism regulates autophagy and apoptotic cell death induced by melatonin in liver cancer cells.
J Pineal Res. 2015; 59(2):178-89 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Autophagy is a process that maintains homeostasis during stress, although it also contributes to cell death under specific contexts. Ceramides have emerged as important effectors in the regulation of autophagy, mediating the crosstalk with apoptosis. Melatonin induces apoptosis of cancer cells; however, its role in autophagy and ceramide metabolism has yet to be clearly elucidated. This study was aimed to evaluate the effect of melatonin administration on autophagy and ceramide metabolism and its possible link with melatonin-induced apoptotic cell death in hepatocarcinoma (HCC) cells. Melatonin (2 mm) transiently induced autophagy in HepG2 cells through JNK phosphorylation, characterized by increased Beclin-1 expression, p62 degradation, and LC3II and LAMP-2 colocalization, which translated in decreased cell viability. Moreover, ATG5 silencing sensitized HepG2 cells to melatonin-induced apoptosis, suggesting a dual role of autophagy in cell death. Melatonin enhanced ceramide levels through both de novo synthesis and acid sphingomyelinase (ASMase) stimulation. Serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT) inhibition with myriocin prevented melatonin-induced autophagy and ASMase inhibition with imipramine-impaired autophagy flux. However, ASMase inhibition partially protected HepG2 cells against melatonin, while SPT inhibition significantly enhanced cell death. Findings suggest a crosstalk between SPT-mediated ceramide generation and autophagy in protecting against melatonin, while specific ASMase-induced ceramide production participates in melatonin-mediated cell death. Thus, dual blocking of SPT and autophagy emerges as a potential strategy to potentiate the apoptotic effects of melatonin in liver cancer cells.

Maurmann L, Belkacemi L, Adams NR, et al.
A novel cisplatin mediated apoptosis pathway is associated with acid sphingomyelinase and FAS proapoptotic protein activation in ovarian cancer.
Apoptosis. 2015; 20(7):960-74 [PubMed] Related Publications
Platinum-based anticancer drugs, including cisplatin and carboplatin, have been cornerstones in the treatment of solid tumors. We report here that these DNA-damaging agents, particularly cisplatin, induce apoptosis through plasma membrane disruption, triggering FAS death receptor via mitochondrial (intrinsic) pathways. Our objectives were to: quantify the composition of membrane metabolites; and determine the potential involvement of acid sphingomyelinase (ASMase) in the FAS-mediated apoptosis in ovarian cancer after cisplatin treatment. The resulting analysis revealed enhanced apoptosis as measured by: increased phosphocholine, and glycerophosphocholine; elevated cellular energetics; and phosphocreatine and nucleoside triphosphate concentrations. The plasma membrane alterations were accompanied by increased ASMase activity, leading to the upregulation of FAS, FASL and related pro-apoptotic BAX and PUMA genes. Moreover FAS, FASL, BAX, PUMA, CASPASE-3 and -9 proteins were upregulated. Our findings implicate ASMase activity and the intrinsic pathways in cisplatin-mediated membrane demise, and contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms by which ovarian tumors may become resistant to cisplatin.

Jawhar M, Schwaab J, Schnittger S, et al.
Molecular profiling of myeloid progenitor cells in multi-mutated advanced systemic mastocytosis identifies KIT D816V as a distinct and late event.
Leukemia. 2015; 29(5):1115-22 [PubMed] Related Publications
To explore the molecular profile and its prognostic implication in systemic mastocytosis (SM), we analyzed the mutation status of granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming progenitor cells (CFU-GM) in patients with KIT D816V(+) indolent SM (ISM, n=4), smoldering SM (SSM, n=2), aggressive SM (ASM, n=1), SM with associated clonal hematologic non-mast cell lineage disorder (SM-AHNMD, n=5) and ASM-AHNMD (n=7). All patients with (A)SM-AHNMD (n=12) carried 1-4 (median 3) additional mutations in 11 genes tested, most frequently TET2, SRSF2, ASXL1, CBL and EZH2. In multi-mutated (A)SM-AHNMD, KIT D816V(+) single-cell-derived CFU-GM colonies were identified in 8/12 patients (median 60%, range 0-95). Additional mutations were identified in CFU-GM colonies in all patients, and logical hierarchy analysis indicated that mutations in TET2, SRSF2 and ASXL1 preceded KIT D816V. In ISM/SSM, no additional mutations were detected and CFU-GM colonies were exclusively KIT D816V(-). These data indicate that (a) (A)SM-AHNMD is a multi-mutated neoplasm, (b) mutations in TET2, SRSF2 or ASXL1 precede KIT D816V in ASM-AHNMD,

Shakor AB, Atia M, Ismail IA, et al.
Curcumin induces apoptosis of multidrug-resistant human leukemia HL60 cells by complex pathways leading to ceramide accumulation.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014; 1841(12):1672-82 [PubMed] Related Publications
Most anti-cancer agents induce apoptosis, however, a development of multidrug resistance in cancer cells and defects in apoptosis contribute often to treatment failure. Here, the mechanism of curcumin-induced apoptosis was investigated in human leukemia HL60 cells and their HL60/VCR multidrug-resistant counterparts. In both cell lines curcumin induced a bi-phasic ceramide generation with a slow phase until 6 h followed by a more rapid one. The level of the ceramide accumulation correlated inversely with the cell viability. We found that the ceramide elevation resulted from multifarious changes of the activity of sphingolipid-modifying enzymes. In both cell lines curcumin induced relatively fast activation of neutral sphingomyelinase (nSMase), which peaked at 3 h, and was followed by inhibition of sphingomyelin synthase activity. In addition, in HL60/VCR cells the glucosylceramide synthase activity was diminished by curcumin. This process was probably due to curcumin-induced down-regulation of P-gp drug transporter, since cyclosporine A, a P-gp blocker, also inhibited the glucosylceramide synthase activity. Inhibition of nSMase activity with GW4869 or silencing ofSMPD3 gene encoding nSMase2 reversed the curcumin-induced inhibition of sphingomyelin synthase without affecting the glucosylceramide synthase activity. The early ceramide generation by nSMase was indispensable for the later lipid accumulation, modulation of Bax, Bcl-2 and caspase 3 levels, and for reduction of cell viability in curcumin-treated cells, as all these events were inhibited by GW4869 or nSMase2 depletion. These data indicate that the early ceramide generation by nSMase2 induced by curcumin intensifies the later ceramide accumulation via inhibition of sphingomyelin synthase, and controls pro-apoptotic signaling.

Lee TH, Chennakrishnaiah S, Audemard E, et al.
Oncogenic ras-driven cancer cell vesiculation leads to emission of double-stranded DNA capable of interacting with target cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 451(2):295-301 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cell free DNA is often regarded as a source of genetic cancer biomarkers, but the related mechanisms of DNA release, composition and biological activity remain unclear. Here we show that rat epithelial cell transformation by the human H-ras oncogene leads to an increase in production of small, exosomal-like extracellular vesicles by viable cancer cells. These EVs contain chromatin-associated double-stranded DNA fragments covering the entire host genome, including full-length H-ras. Oncogenic N-ras and SV40LT sequences were also found in EVs emitted from spontaneous mouse brain tumor cells. Disruption of acidic sphingomyelinase and the p53/Rb pathway did not block emission of EV-related oncogenic DNA. Exposure of non-transformed RAT-1 cells to EVs containing mutant H-ras DNA led to the uptake and retention of this material for an extended (30days) but transient period of time, and stimulated cell proliferation. Thus, our study suggests that H-ras-mediated transformation stimulates vesicular emission of this histone-bound oncogene, which may interact with non-transformed cells.

Jenkins NC, Kalra RR, Dubuc A, et al.
Genetic drivers of metastatic dissemination in sonic hedgehog medulloblastoma.
Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2014; 2:85 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Leptomeningeal dissemination (LMD), the metastatic spread of tumor cells via the cerebrospinal fluid to the brain and spinal cord, is an ominous prognostic sign for patients with the pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma. The need to reduce the risk of LMD has driven the development of aggressive treatment regimens, which cause disabling neurotoxic side effects in long-term survivors. Transposon-mediated mutagenesis studies in mice have revealed numerous candidate metastasis genes. Understanding how these genes drive LMD will require functional assessment using in vivo and cell culture models of medulloblastoma. We analyzed two genes that were sites of frequent transposon insertion and highly expressed in human medulloblastomas: Arnt (aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator) and Gdi2 (GDP dissociation inhibitor 2). Here we show that ectopic expression of Arnt and Gdi2 promoted LMD in mice bearing Sonic hedgehog (Shh)-induced medulloblastomas. We overexpressed Arnt and Gdi2 in a human medulloblastoma cell line (DAOY) and an immortalized, nontransformed cell line derived from mouse granule neuron precursors (SHH-NPD) and quantified migration, invasiveness, and anchorage-independent growth, cell traits that are associated with metastatic competence in carcinomas. In SHH-NPD cells. Arnt and Gdi2 stimulated all three traits. In DAOY cells, Arnt had the same effects, but Gdi2 stimulated invasiveness only. These results support a mechanism whereby Arnt and Gdi2 cause cells to detach from the primary tumor mass by increasing cell motility and invasiveness. By conferring to tumor cells the ability to proliferate without surface attachment, Arnt and Gdi2 favor the formation of stable colonies of cells capable of seeding the leptomeninges.

Soans E, Evans SC, Cipolla C, Fernandes E
Characterizing the sphingomyelinase pathway triggered by PRIMA-1 derivatives in lung cancer cells with differing p53 status.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(7):3271-83 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: Derivatives of PRIMA-1 compound, 8a and 8b have been shown to increase cytotoxicity in lung cancer cells through sphingomyelinase pathways in IR and 8a or 8b co-treated lung cancer cells. The goal of the present study was to further elaborate the molecular mechanism of 8a- or 8b-treated lung cancer cells in order to understand their potential as anti-cancer drugs.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Biochemical assays, western blot, flow cytometry and gene array analyses were employed to distinguish these mechanisms.
RESULTS: Herein we demonstrated that 8a and 8b cause apoptosis with S-phase arrest in lung cancer cells by activating neutral sphingomyelinase with ceramide production. 8a induces expression of TNF family genes while 8b induces p53-mediated apoptosis genes. Protein analysis shows an increased expression in caspase 8, bcl-2, bax, caspase 9 and cytochrome c.
CONCLUSION: PRIMA-1 derivatives provoke cytotoxicity in lung cancer cells mainly through the neutral sphingomyelinase-dependent apoptosis pathway.

Perry DM, Newcomb B, Adada M, et al.
Defining a role for acid sphingomyelinase in the p38/interleukin-6 pathway.
J Biol Chem. 2014; 289(32):22401-12 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) is one of the key enzymes involved in regulating the metabolism of the bioactive sphingolipid ceramide in the sphingolipid salvage pathway, yet defining signaling pathways by which ASM exerts its effects has proven difficult. Previous literature has implicated sphingolipids in the regulation of cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), but the specific sphingolipid pathways and mechanisms involved in inflammatory signaling need to be further elucidated. In this work, we sought to define the role of ASM in IL-6 production because our previous work showed that a parallel pathway of ceramide metabolism, acid β-glucosidase 1, negatively regulates IL-6. First, silencing ASM with siRNA abrogated IL-6 production in response to the tumor promoter, 4β-phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA), in MCF-7 cells, in distinction to acid β-glucosidase 1 and acid ceramidase, suggesting specialization of the pathways. Moreover, treating cells with siRNA to ASM or with the indirect pharmacologic inhibitor desipramine resulted in significant inhibition of TNFα- and PMA-induced IL-6 production in MDA-MB-231 and HeLa cells. Knockdown of ASM was found to significantly inhibit PMA-dependent IL-6 induction at the mRNA level, probably ruling out mechanisms of translation or secretion of IL-6. Further, ASM knockdown or desipramine blunted p38 MAPK activation in response to TNFα, revealing a key role for ASM in activating p38, a signaling pathway known to regulate IL-6 induction. Last, knockdown of ASM dramatically blunted invasion of HeLa and MDA-MB-231 cells through Matrigel. Taken together, these results demonstrate that ASM plays a critical role in p38 signaling and IL-6 synthesis with implications for tumor pathobiology.

Lesma E, Ancona S, Sirchia SM, et al.
TSC2 epigenetic defect in primary LAM cells. Evidence of an anchorage-independent survival.
J Cell Mol Med. 2014; 18(5):766-79 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is caused by mutations in TSC1 or TSC2 genes. Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) can be sporadic or associated with TSC and is characterized by widespread pulmonary proliferation of abnormal α-smooth muscle (ASM)-like cells. We investigated the features of ASM cells isolated from chylous thorax of a patient affected by LAM associated with TSC, named LAM/TSC cells, bearing a germline TSC2 mutation and an epigenetic defect causing the absence of tuberin. Proliferation of LAM/TSC cells is epidermal growth factor (EGF)-dependent and blockade of EGF receptor causes cell death as we previously showed in cells lacking tuberin. LAM/TSC cells spontaneously detach probably for the inactivation of the focal adhesion kinase (FAK)/Akt/mTOR pathway and display the ability to survive independently from adhesion. Non-adherent LAM/TSC cells show an extremely low proliferation rate consistent with tumour stem-cell characteristics. Moreover, LAM/TSC cells bear characteristics of stemness and secrete high amount of interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8. Anti-EGF receptor antibodies and rapamycin affect proliferation and viability of non-adherent cells. In conclusion, the understanding of LAM/TSC cell features is important in the assessment of cell invasiveness in LAM and TSC and should provide a useful model to test therapeutic approaches aimed at controlling their migratory ability.

Romanelli V, Nakabayashi K, Vizoso M, et al.
Variable maternal methylation overlapping the nc886/vtRNA2-1 locus is locked between hypermethylated repeats and is frequently altered in cancer.
Epigenetics. 2014; 9(5):783-90 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cancer is as much an epigenetic disease as a genetic one; however, the interplay between these two processes is unclear. Recently, it has been shown that a large proportion of DNA methylation variability can be explained by allele-specific methylation (ASM), either at classical imprinted loci or those regulated by underlying genetic variants. During a recent screen for imprinted differentially methylated regions, we identified the genomic interval overlapping the non-coding nc886 RNA (previously known as vtRNA2-1) as an atypical ASM that shows variable levels of methylation, predominantly on the maternal allele in many tissues. Here we show that the nc886 interval is the first example of a polymorphic imprinted DMR in humans. Further analysis of the region suggests that the interval subjected to ASM is approximately 2 kb in size and somatically acquired. An in depth analysis of this region in primary cancer samples with matching normal adjacent tissue from the Cancer Genome Atlas revealed that aberrant methylation in bladder, breast, colon and lung tumors occurred in approximately 27% of cases. Hypermethylation occurred more frequently than hypomethylation. Using additional normal-tumor paired samples we show that on rare occasions the aberrant methylation profile is due to loss-of-heterozygosity. This work therefore suggests that the nc886 locus is subject to variable allelic methylation that undergoes cancer-associated epigenetic changes in solid tumors.

Erben P, Schwaab J, Metzgeroth G, et al.
The KIT D816V expressed allele burden for diagnosis and disease monitoring of systemic mastocytosis.
Ann Hematol. 2014; 93(1):81-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
The activating KIT D816V mutation plays a central role in the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and targeted treatment of systemic mastocytosis (SM). For improved and reliable identification of KIT D816V, we have developed an allele-specific quantitative real-time PCR (RQ-PCR) with an enhanced sensitivity of 0.01-0.1 %, which was superior to denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography (0.5-1 %) or conventional sequencing (10-20 %). Overall, KIT D816 mutations were identified in 146/147 (99 %) of patients (D816V, n = 142; D816H, n = 2; D816Y, n = 2) with SM, including indolent SM (ISM, n = 63, 43 %), smoldering SM (n = 8, 5 %), SM with associated hematological non-mast cell lineage disease (SM-AHNMD, n = 16, 11 %), and aggressive SM/mast cell leukemia ± AHNMD (ASM/MCL, n = 60, 41 %). If positive in BM, the KIT D816V mutation was found in PB of all patients with advanced SM (SM-AHNMD, ASM, and MCL) and in 46 % (23/50) of patients with ISM. There was a strong correlation between the KIT D816V expressed allele burden (KIT D816V EAB) with results obtained from DNA by genomic allele-specific PCR and also with disease activity (e.g., serum tryptase level), disease subtype (e.g., indolent vs. advanced SM) and survival. In terms of monitoring of residual disease, qualitative and quantitative assessment of KIT D816V and KIT D816V EAB was successfully used for sequential analysis after chemotherapy or allogeneic stem cell transplantation. We therefore conclude that RQ-PCR assays for KIT D816V are useful complimentary tools for diagnosis, disease monitoring, and evaluation of prognosis in patients with SM.

Peter B, Cerny-Reiterer S, Hadzijusufovic E, et al.
The pan-Bcl-2 blocker obatoclax promotes the expression of Puma, Noxa, and Bim mRNA and induces apoptosis in neoplastic mast cells.
J Leukoc Biol. 2014; 95(1):95-104 [PubMed] Related Publications
Advanced SM is an incurable neoplasm with short survival time. So far, no effective therapy is available for these patients. We and others have shown recently that neoplastic MC in ASM and MCL express antiapoptotic Mcl-1, Bcl-2, and Bcl-xL. In this study, we examined the effects of the pan-Bcl-2 family blocker obatoclax (GX015-070) on primary neoplastic MC, the human MC leukemia cell line HMC-1, and the canine mastocytoma cell line C2. Obatoclax was found to inhibit proliferation in primary human neoplastic MC (IC₅₀: 0.057 μM), in HMC-1.2 cells expressing KIT D816V (IC₅₀: 0.72 μM), and in HMC-1.1 cells lacking KIT D816V (IC₅₀: 0.09 μM), as well as in C2 cells (IC₅₀: 0.74 μM). The growth-inhibitory effects of obatoclax in HMC-1 cells were accompanied by an increase in expression of Puma, Noxa, and Bim mRNA, as well as by apoptosis, as evidenced by microscopy, TUNEL assay, and caspase cleavage. Viral-mediated overexpression of Mcl-1, Bcl-xL, or Bcl-2 in HMC-1 cells was found to introduce partial resistance against apoptosis-inducing effects of obatoclax. We were also able to show that obatoclax synergizes with several other antineoplastic drugs, including dasatinib, midostaurin, and bortezomib, in producing apoptosis and/or growth arrest in neoplastic MC. Together, obatoclax exerts major growth-inhibitory effects on neoplastic MC and potentiates the antineoplastic activity of other targeted drugs. Whether these drug effects can be translated to application in patients with advanced SM remains to be determined.

Revill K, Wang T, Lachenmayer A, et al.
Genome-wide methylation analysis and epigenetic unmasking identify tumor suppressor genes in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Gastroenterology. 2013; 145(6):1424-35.e1-25 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor genes contributes to the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To identify clinically relevant tumor suppressor genes silenced by DNA methylation in HCC, we integrated DNA methylation data from human primary HCC samples with data on up-regulation of gene expression after epigenetic unmasking.
METHODS: We performed genome-wide methylation analysis of 71 human HCC samples using the Illumina HumanBeadchip27K array; data were combined with those from microarray analysis of gene re-expression in 4 liver cancer cell lines after their exposure to reagents that reverse DNA methylation (epigenetic unmasking).
RESULTS: Based on DNA methylation in primary HCC and gene re-expression in cell lines after epigenetic unmasking, we identified 13 candidate tumor suppressor genes. Subsequent validation led us to focus on functionally characterizing 2 candidates, sphingomyelin phosphodiesterase 3 (SMPD3) and neurofilament, heavy polypeptide (NEFH), which we found to behave as tumor suppressor genes in HCC. Overexpression of SMPD3 and NEFH by stable transfection of inducible constructs into an HCC cell line reduced cell proliferation by 50% and 20%, respectively (SMPD3, P = .003 and NEFH, P = .003). Conversely, knocking down expression of these genes with small hairpin RNA promoted cell invasion and migration in vitro (SMPD3, P = .0001 and NEFH, P = .022), and increased their ability to form tumors after subcutaneous injection or orthotopic transplantation into mice, confirming their role as tumor suppressor genes in HCC. Low levels of SMPD3 were associated with early recurrence of HCC after curative surgery in an independent patient cohort (P = .001; hazard ratio = 3.22; 95% confidence interval: 1.6-6.5 in multivariate analysis).
CONCLUSIONS: Integrative genomic analysis identified SMPD3 and NEFH as tumor suppressor genes in HCC. We provide evidence that SMPD3 is a potent tumor suppressor gene that could affect tumor aggressiveness; a reduced level of SMPD3 is an independent prognostic factor for early recurrence of HCC.

Stancevic B, Varda-Bloom N, Cheng J, et al.
Adenoviral transduction of human acid sphingomyelinase into neo-angiogenic endothelium radiosensitizes tumor cure.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(8):e69025 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
These studies define a new mechanism-based approach to radiosensitize tumor cure by single dose radiotherapy (SDRT). Published evidence indicates that SDRT induces acute microvascular endothelial apoptosis initiated via acid sphingomyelinase (ASMase) translocation to the external plasma membrane. Ensuing microvascular damage regulates radiation lethality of tumor stem cell clonogens to effect tumor cure. Based on this biology, we engineered an ASMase-producing vector consisting of a modified pre-proendothelin-1 promoter, PPE1(3x), and a hypoxia-inducible dual-binding HIF-2α-Ets-1 enhancer element upstream of the asmase gene, inserted into a replication-deficient adenovirus yielding the vector Ad5H2E-PPE1(3x)-ASMase. This vector confers ASMase over-expression in cycling angiogenic endothelium in vitro and within tumors in vivo, with no detectable enhancement in endothelium of normal tissues that exhibit a minute fraction of cycling cells or in non-endothelial tumor or normal tissue cells. Intravenous pretreatment with Ad5H2E-PPE1(3x)-ASMase markedly increases SDRT cure of inherently radiosensitive MCA/129 fibrosarcomas, and converts radiation-incurable B16 melanomas into biopsy-proven tumor cures. In contrast, Ad5H2E-PPE1(3x)-ASMase treatment did not impact radiation damage to small intestinal crypts as non-dividing small intestinal microvessels did not overexpress ASMase and were not radiosensitized. We posit that combination of genetic up-regulation of tumor microvascular ASMase and SDRT provides therapeutic options for currently radiation-incurable human tumors.

Kumazoe M, Kim Y, Bae J, et al.
Phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor acts as a potent agent sensitizing acute myeloid leukemia cells to 67-kDa laminin receptor-dependent apoptosis.
FEBS Lett. 2013; 587(18):3052-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
(-)-Epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol in green tea, induces apoptosis in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells without affecting normal cells. In this study, we observed that cGMP acts as a cell death mediator of the EGCG-induced anti-AML effect through acid sphingomyelinase activation. EGCG activated the Akt/eNOS axis, a well-known mechanism in vascular cGMP upregulation. We also observed that a major cGMP negative regulator, phosphodiesterase 5, was overexpressed in AML cells, and PDE5 inhibitor, an anti-erectile dysfunction drug, synergistically enhanced the anti-AML effect of EGCG. This combination regimen killed AML cells via overexpressed 67-kDa laminin receptors.

Savić R, He X, Fiel I, Schuchman EH
Recombinant human acid sphingomyelinase as an adjuvant to sorafenib treatment of experimental liver cancer.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(5):e65620 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of liver cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. The only approved systemic treatment for unresectable HCC is the oral kinase inhibitor, sorafenib. Recombinant human acid sphingomyelinase (rhASM), which hydrolyzes sphingomyelin to ceramide, is an orphan drug under development for the treatment of Type B Niemann-Pick disease (NPD). Due to the hepatotropic nature of rhASM and its ability to generate pro-apoptotic ceramide, this study evaluated the use of rhASM as an adjuvant treatment with sorafenib in experimental models of HCC.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In vitro, rhASM/sorafenib treatment reduced the viability of Huh7 liver cancer cells more than sorafenib. In vivo, using a subcutaneous Huh7 tumor model, mouse survival was increased and proliferation in the tumors decreased to a similar extent in both sorafenib and rhASM/sorafenib treatment groups. However, combined rhASM/sorafenib treatment significantly lowered tumor volume, increased tumor necrosis, and decreased tumor blood vessel density compared to sorafenib. These results were obtained despite poor delivery of rhASM to the tumors. A second (orthotopic) model of Huh7 tumors also was established, but modest ASM activity was similarly detected in these tumors compared to healthy mouse livers. Importantly, no chronic liver toxicity or weight loss was observed from rhASM therapy in either model.
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The rhASM/sorafenib combination exhibited a synergistic effect on reducing the tumor volume and blood vessel density in Huh7 xenografts, despite modest activity of rhASM in these tumors. No significant increases in survival were observed from the rhASM/sorafenib treatment. The poor delivery of rhASM to Huh7 tumors may be due, at least in part, to low expression of mannose receptors. The safety and efficacy of this approach, together with the novel findings regarding enzyme targeting, merits further investigation.

Malki A, Fathy L, El Ashry ES
Novel quinuclidinone derivatives induce apoptosis in lung cancer via sphingomyelinase pathways.
Drug Res (Stuttg). 2013; 63(7):362-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
We previously reported novel quinuclidinone analogs which induced apoptosis in lung and breast cancer cells. In this study, we designed and synthesized novel quinuclidinone analogs that showed cytotoxicity in lung cancer cells. The effects of these analogs were studied in H1299 human large cell lung carcinoma cells that are null for p53 and normal lung epithelial cell lines (NL-20). The effects of the analogs were investigated by MTT assay, ELISA based apoptotic assay, TUNEL assay, sphingomylinase activity, flow cytometry and western blot analysis. Our data indicated that derivatives 4 and 6 decreased cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in H1299 cells more than NL-20 cells. Derivatives 4 and 6 reduced percent of cells in G2/M phase in H1299 cells more than NL-20 cells and these results were confirmed by increased expression levels of cyclin E. Furthermore, derivatives 4 and 6 increased sphingomyelinase activity, caspase-8, and caspase-9 and JNK-1 expression level in H1299. Additionally, derivatives 4 and 6 induced Procaspase-3, PARP-1 cleavage, and increased caspase-3 activity. All these results confirm that our quinuclidinone derivatives provoke cytotoxicity in lung cancer cells through the interplay of key apoptosis molecules in different compartments of the cell beginning with an increase in sphingomyelinase activity.

Goldkorn T, Chung S, Filosto S
Lung cancer and lung injury: the dual role of ceramide.
Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2013; (216):93-113 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Sphingolipids play key roles in cancer, yet our current understanding of sphingolipid function in lung cancer is limited to a few key players. The best characterized of these are sphingosine-1-phosphate and ceramide which are described for their opposing roles in cell fate. However, because sphingolipids as a whole are readily interconverted by a complex enzymatic machinery, no single sphingolipid appears to have exactly one role. Instead, the roles of specific sphingolipids appear to be context specific as demonstrated by findings that ceramide-1-phosphate has both proliferative and apoptotic effects depending on its concentration. Therefore, we present herein several years of research on ceramide, a sphingolipid linked to apoptotic signaling, that is emerging in cancer research for its potential roles in proliferation and cell-to-cell communication via exosomes.Ceramide is a well-studied sphingolipid in both normal and pathological conditions ranging from skin development to lung cancer. Interestingly, several groups have previously reported its increased levels in emphysema patients who are smokers, a patient subpopulation greatly susceptible to lung cancer. However, the molecular mechanisms through which cigarette smoke (CS) and ceramide accumulation lead to lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) specifically, are unknown.Interestingly, recent studies clearly establish that two signaling pathways are activated during CS exposure in the lung airway. One centers on the activation of neutral sphingomyelinase2 (nSMase2), an enzyme that hydrolyzes sphingomyelin to ceramide. The other pathway focuses on the oncogenic EGF receptor (EGFR), which becomes aberrantly activated but not degraded, leading to prolonged proliferative signaling. Recent studies show that these two signaling pathways may actually converge and integrate. Specifically, Goldkorn et al. demonstrated that during CS exposure, EGFR is favorably co-localized in ceramide-enriched regions of the plasma membrane, proposing that nSMase2/ceramide plays a role in the aberrant EGFR activation, leading to augmented tumorigenic signaling. Moreover, new findings indicate that CS exposure may induce resistance to the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), used for treatment of NSCLC, merely through posttranslational molecular alterations. Furthermore, structural anomalies of the CS-activated EGFR appear to be supported by the excess ceramide produced by the CS-activated nSMase2 in the plasma membrane of lung epithelial cells.We present in this chapter the progression of the sphingolipid field in lung cancer using ceramide as an example. However, many crucial questions remain to be answered regarding the role of sphingolipids in lung cancer because of the glut of promising observations.

Kosaka N, Iguchi H, Hagiwara K, et al.
Neutral sphingomyelinase 2 (nSMase2)-dependent exosomal transfer of angiogenic microRNAs regulate cancer cell metastasis.
J Biol Chem. 2013; 288(15):10849-59 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The release of humoral factors between cancer cells and the microenvironmental cells is critical for metastasis; however, the roles of secreted miRNAs in non-cell autonomous cancer progression against microenvironmental cells remain largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the neutral sphyngomyelinase 2 (nSMase2) regulates exosomal microRNA (miRNA) secretion and promotes angiogenesis within the tumor microenvironment as well as metastasis. We demonstrate a requirement for nSMase2-mediated cancer cell exosomal miRNAs in the regulation of metastasis through the induction of angiogenesis in inoculated tumors. In addition, miR-210, released by metastatic cancer cells, was shown to transport to endothelial cells and suppress the expression of specific target genes, which resulted in enhanced angiogenesis. These findings suggest that the horizontal transfer of exosomal miRNAs from cancer cells can dictate the microenviromental niche for the benefit of the cancer cell, like "on demand system" for cancer cells.

Savić R, Schuchman EH
Use of acid sphingomyelinase for cancer therapy.
Adv Cancer Res. 2013; 117:91-115 [PubMed] Related Publications
Acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) is a lipid hydrolase that cleaves the sphingolipid, sphingomyelin, into ceramide. Mutations in the ASM gene (SMPD1) result in the rare lysosomal storage disorder, Niemann-Pick disease (NPD). In addition to its role in NPD, over the past two decades, the importance of sphingolipids, and ASM in particular, in normal physiology and the pathophysiology of numerous common diseases also has become known. For example, altered sphingolipid metabolism occurs in many cancers, generally reducing the levels of the pro-apoptotic lipid, ceramide, and/or elevating the levels of the proliferative lipid, sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). These changes likely contribute to the tumorigenicity and/or metastatic capacity of the cancer. In addition, many cancer therapies induce ceramide-mediated death, and cancer cells have evolved novel mechanisms to overcome this effect. In the present review, we discuss sphingolipid metabolism in cancer, and specifically the potential for pharmacological modulation using ASM. Of note, recombinant human ASM (rhASM) has been produced for human use and is being evaluated as a treatment for NPD. Thus, its use for cancer therapy could be rapidly evaluated in the clinic after appropriate animal model studies have been completed. As this enzyme was initially studied in the context of NPD, we start with a brief overview of the history of ASM and NPD, followed by a discussion of the role of ASM in cancer biology, and then summarize emerging preclinical efficacy studies using rhASM as an adjunct in the treatment of solid tumors.

Hu Y, Huang Y, Du Y, et al.
DiffSplice: the genome-wide detection of differential splicing events with RNA-seq.
Nucleic Acids Res. 2013; 41(2):e39 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The RNA transcriptome varies in response to cellular differentiation as well as environmental factors, and can be characterized by the diversity and abundance of transcript isoforms. Differential transcription analysis, the detection of differences between the transcriptomes of different cells, may improve understanding of cell differentiation and development and enable the identification of biomarkers that classify disease types. The availability of high-throughput short-read RNA sequencing technologies provides in-depth sampling of the transcriptome, making it possible to accurately detect the differences between transcriptomes. In this article, we present a new method for the detection and visualization of differential transcription. Our approach does not depend on transcript or gene annotations. It also circumvents the need for full transcript inference and quantification, which is a challenging problem because of short read lengths, as well as various sampling biases. Instead, our method takes a divide-and-conquer approach to localize the difference between transcriptomes in the form of alternative splicing modules (ASMs), where transcript isoforms diverge. Our approach starts with the identification of ASMs from the splice graph, constructed directly from the exons and introns predicted from RNA-seq read alignments. The abundance of alternative splicing isoforms residing in each ASM is estimated for each sample and is compared across sample groups. A non-parametric statistical test is applied to each ASM to detect significant differential transcription with a controlled false discovery rate. The sensitivity and specificity of the method have been assessed using simulated data sets and compared with other state-of-the-art approaches. Experimental validation using qRT-PCR confirmed a selected set of genes that are differentially expressed in a lung differentiation study and a breast cancer data set, demonstrating the utility of the approach applied on experimental biological data sets. The software of DiffSplice is available at

Yun SH, Park ES, Shin SW, et al.
Stichoposide C induces apoptosis through the generation of ceramide in leukemia and colorectal cancer cells and shows in vivo antitumor activity.
Clin Cancer Res. 2012; 18(21):5934-48 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Marine triterpene glycosides that are physiologically active natural compounds isolated from sea cucumbers (holothurians) and sponges have antifungal, cytotoxic, and antitumor activities, whose specific molecular mechanisms remain to be elucidated. In this study, we examined if and through which mechanisms stichoposide C (STC) from Thelenota anax (family Stichopodidae) induces apoptosis in leukemia and colorectal cancer cells.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We examined STC-induced apoptosis in human leukemia and colorectal cancer cells in the context of mitochondrial injury and signaling pathway disturbances, and investigated the antitumor effect of STC in mouse CT-26 subcutaneous tumor and HL-60 leukemia xenograft models.
RESULTS: We found that STC induces apoptosis in these cells in a dose-dependent manner and leads to the activation of Fas and caspase-8, cleavage of Bid, mitochondrial damage, and activation of caspase-3. STC activates acid sphingomyelinase (SMase) and neutral SMase, which resulted in the generation of ceramide. Specific inhibition of acid SMase or neutral SMase and siRNA knockdown experiments partially blocked STC-induced apoptosis. Moreover, STC markedly reduced tumor growth of HL-60 xenograft and CT-26 subcutaneous tumors and increased ceramide generation in vivo.
CONCLUSIONS: Ceramide generation by STC, through activation of acid and neutral SMase, may in part contribute to STC-induced apoptosis and antitumor activity. Thus, STC may have therapeutic relevance for human leukemia and colorectal cancer.

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