Potential new therapeutic molecular target to fight cancer

Nov 01, 2007

Researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center have identified the enzyme sphingosine kinase 2 as a possible new therapeutic target to improve the efficacy of chemotherapy for colon and breast cancer.

In the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Cancer Research, researchers examined human colon and breast cancer cells and established a role of sphingosine kinase 2 (SphK2), an enzyme that forms the potent lipid mediator sphingosine-1-phosphate in the death of cancer cells mediated by the chemotherapeutic drug, doxorubicin.

Doxorubicin is able to kill cancer cells by working with p53, one of the most protective anti-cancer proteins in the human body. However, doxorubicin also relies on p53- independent mechanisms to induce death in colon and breast cancer cells.

“Understanding how doxorubicin kills in a p53-independent manner is a major goal of cancer researchers because most cancer cells have mutated p53,” said lead author Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D., chair and professor in the VCU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and co-leader of the cancer center's cancer cell biology program.

According to Spiegel, the study demonstrated that SphK2 is important for p53-independent induction of expression of p21, a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor. This p21 regulates the cell cycle, and apoptosis or programmed cell suicide, mediated by doxorubicin. Human colon and breast cancer cells were killed more efficiently by doxorubicin when SphK2 was removed from the cells.

“Therefore, the findings suggest that SphK2 influences the balance between cytostasis, and apoptosis of human cancer cells,” Spiegel said. Cytostasis refers to the stoppage of cellular growth and multiplication.

Spiegel said that cell death was induced by doxorubicin and decreased p21.

Spiegel, who is internationally recognized for her pioneering work on new lipid mediators that regulate cell growth and cell death, and her colleagues, first discovered the role of sphingosine-1-phosphate in cell growth regulation nearly a decade ago. Spiegel and her team are continuing this work to better understand the functions of these enzymes.

Source: Virginia Commonwealth University

Explore further: The fine line between breast cancer and normal tissues

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Battling superbugs with gene-editing system

Sep 21, 2014

In recent years, new strains of bacteria have emerged that resist even the most powerful antibiotics. Each year, these superbugs, including drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis and staphylococcus, infect ...

Wireless sensor transmits tumor pressure

Sep 20, 2014

The interstitial pressure inside a tumor is often remarkably high compared to normal tissues and is thought to impede the delivery of chemotherapeutic agents as well as decrease the effectiveness of radiation ...

Base-pairing protects DNA from UV damage

Sep 19, 2014

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers have discovered a further function of the base-pairing that holds the two strands of the DNA double helix together: it plays a crucial role in protecting ...

Quantum mechanics to charge your laptop?

Sep 18, 2014

Top scientists from UC Berkeley and MIT found the expertise they lacked at FIU. They invited Sakhrat Khizroev, a professor with appointments in both medicine and engineering, to help them conduct research ...

Recommended for you

The fine line between breast cancer and normal tissues

1 hour ago

Up to 40 percent of patients undergoing breast cancer surgery require additional operations because surgeons may fail to remove all the cancerous tissue in the initial operation. However, researchers at Brigham ...

Pancreatic cancer risk not higher with diabetes Rx DPP-4i

2 hours ago

(HealthDay)—There is no increased short-term pancreatic cancer risk with dipeptidyl-peptidase-4 inhibitors (DPP-4i) compared to sulfonylureas (SU) and thiazolidinediones (TZD) for glycemic control, according ...

Good bowel cleansing is key for high-quality colonoscopy

4 hours ago

The success of a colonoscopy is closely linked to good bowel preparation, with poor bowel prep often resulting in missed precancerous lesions, according to new consensus guidelines released by the U.S. Multi-Society Task ...

New rules for anticancer vaccines

6 hours ago

Scientists have found a way to find the proverbial needle in the cancer antigen haystack, according to a report published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

User comments : 0