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Sphingosine kinase 1 is required for TGF-β mediated fibroblastto- myofibroblast differentiation in ovarian cancer.

  • Author(s): Beach, Jessica A
  • Aspuria, Paul-Joseph P
  • Cheon, Dong-Joo
  • Lawrenson, Kate
  • Agadjanian, Hasmik
  • Walsh, Christine S
  • Karlan, Beth Y
  • Orsulic, Sandra
  • et al.
Abstract

Sphingosine kinase 1 (SPHK1), the enzyme that produces sphingosine 1 phosphate (S1P), is known to be highly expressed in many cancers. However, the role of SPHK1 in cells of the tumor stroma remains unclear. Here, we show that SPHK1 is highly expressed in the tumor stroma of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSC), and is required for the differentiation and tumor promoting function of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). Knockout or pharmacological inhibition of SPHK1 in ovarian fibroblasts attenuated TGF-β-induced expression of CAF markers, and reduced their ability to promote ovarian cancer cell migration and invasion in a coculture system. Mechanistically, we determined that SPHK1 mediates TGF-β signaling via the transactivation of S1P receptors (S1PR2 and S1PR3), leading to p38 MAPK phosphorylation. The importance of stromal SPHK1 in tumorigenesis was confirmed in vivo, by demonstrating a significant reduction of tumor growth and metastasis in SPHK1 knockout mice. Collectively, these findings demonstrate the potential of SPHK1 inhibition as a novel stroma-targeted therapy in HGSC.

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