The regulation of p53, p38 MAPK, JNK and XBP-1s by sphingosine kinases in human embryonic kidney cells

Mariam Alsanafi, Samuel L. Kelly, Melissa McNaughton, Alfred H. Merrill Jr., Nigel J. Pyne, Susan Pyne

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Since inhibitors of sphingosine kinases (SK1, SK2) have been shown to induce p53-mediated cell death, we have further investigated their role in regulating p53, stress activated protein kinases and XBP-1s in HEK293T cells. Treatment of these cells with the sphingosine kinase inhibitor, SKi, which fails to induce apoptosis, promoted the conversion of p53 into two proteins with molecular masses of 63 and 90 kDa, and which was enhanced by over-expression of ubiquitin. The SKi induced conversion of p53 to p63/p90 was also enhanced by siRNA knock down of SK1, but not SK2 or dihydroceramide desaturase (Degs1), suggesting that SK1 is a negative regulator of this process. In contrast, another sphingosine kinase inhibitor, ABC294640 only very weakly stimulated formation of p63/p90 and induced apoptosis of HEK293T cells. We have previously shown that SKi promotes the polyubiquitination of Degs1, and these forms positively regulate p38 MAPK/JNK pathways to promote HEK293T cell survival/growth. siRNA knock down of SK1 enhanced the activation of p38 MAPK/JNK pathways in response to SKi, suggesting that SK1 functions to oppose these pro-survival pathways in HEK293T cells. SKi also enhanced the stimulatory effect of the proteasome inhibitor, MG132 on the expression of the pro-survival protein XBP-1s and this was reduced by siRNA knock down of SK2 and increased by knock down of p53. These findings suggest that SK1 and SK2 have opposing roles in regulating p53-dependent function in HEK293T cells.
Original languageEnglish
Article number158631
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids
Issue number4
Early online date15 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020


  • sphingosine kinase
  • dihydroceramide desaturase
  • sphingosine 1-phosphate
  • ER stress
  • proteasome


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