Sphingosine 1 phosphate signalling in cancer

N. J. Pyne, F. Tonelli, K. G. Lim, J. S. Long, J. Edwards, S. Pyne

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


There is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating a critical role for the bioactive lipid S1P (sphingosine 1-phosphate) in cancer. S1P is synthesized and metabolized by a number of enzymes, including sphingosine kinase, S1P lyase and S1P phosphatases. S1P binds to cell-surface G-protein-coupled receptors (S1P1–S1P5) to elicit cell responses and can also regulate, by direct binding, a number of intracellular targets such as HDAC (histone deacetylase) 1/2 to induce epigenetic regulation. S1P is involved in cancer progression including cell transformation/oncogenesis, cell survival/apoptosis, cell migration/metastasis and tumour microenvironment neovascularization. In the present paper, we describe our research findings regarding the correlation of sphingosine kinase 1 and S1P receptor expression in tumours with clinical outcome and we define some of the molecular mechanisms underlying the involvement of sphingosine kinase 1 and S1P receptors in the formation of a cancer cell migratory phenotype. The role of sphingosine kinase 1 in the acquisition of chemotherapeutic resistance and the interaction of S1P receptors with oncogenes such as HER2 is also reviewed. We also discuss novel aspects of the use of small-molecule inhibitors of sphingosine kinase 1 in terms of allosterism, ubiquitin–proteasomal degradation of sphingosine kinase 1 and anticancer activity. Finally, we describe how S1P receptor-modulating agents abrogate S1P receptor–receptor tyrosine kinase interactions, with potential to inhibit growth-factor-dependent cancer progression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Society Transactions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • sphingosine 1-phosphate
  • signalling
  • cancer

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