Sphingolipids, such as ceramide, sphingosine and sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) are bioactive molecules that have important functions in a variety of cellular processes, which include proliferation, survival, differentiation and cellular responses to stress. Sphingolipids have a major impact on the determination of cell fate by contributing to either cell survival or death. Although ceramide and sphingosine are usually considered to induce cell death, S1P promotes survival of cells. Sphingosine kinases (SPHKs) are the enzymes that catalyze the conversion of sphingosine to S1P. There are two isoforms, SPHK1 and SPHK2, which are encoded by different genes. SPHK1 has recently been implicated in contributing to cell transformation, tumor angiogenesis and metastatic spread, as well as cancer cell multidrug-resistance. More recent findings suggest that SPHK2 also has a role in cancer progression. This review is an overview of our understanding of the role of SPHKs and S1P in hematopoietic malignancies and provides information on the current status of SPHK inhibitors with respect to their therapeutic potential in the treatment of haematological cancers.
- multiple myeloma
- sphingosine 1-phosphate