We recently noted that low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and this drug combination is entering phase I trials. The present studies mechanistically extended our initial observations. Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat, but not the individual agents, caused an acidic sphingomyelinase and fumonisin B1-dependent increase in CD95 surface levels and CD95 association with caspase 8. Knock down of CD95 or FADD expression reduced sorafenib/vorinostat lethality. Signaling by CD95 caused PERK activation that was responsible for both promoting caspase 8 association with CD95 and for increased eIF2α phosphorylation; suppression of eIF2α function abolished drug combination lethality. Cell killing was paralleled by PERK- and eIF2α-dependent lowering of c-FLIP-s protein levels and over-expression of c-FLIP-s maintained cell viability. In a CD95-, FADD- and PERK-dependent fashion, sorafenib and vorinostat increased expression of ATG5 that was responsible for enhanced autophagy. Expression of PDGFRβ and FLT3 were essential for high dose single agent sorafenib treatment to promote autophagy. Suppression of PERK function reduced sorafenib and vorinostat lethality whereas suppression of ATG5 levels elevated sorafenib and vorinostat lethality. Over-expression of c-FLIP-s blocked apoptosis and enhanced drug-induced autophagy. Thus sorafenib and vorinostat promote ceramide-dependent CD95 activation followed by induction of multiple downstream survival regulatory signals: ceramide-CD95-PERK-FADD-pro-caspase 8 (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-eIF2α -↓c-FLIP-s (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-ATG5-autophagy (survival).
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; PDGFRβ; FLT3; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
Sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and the present studies have determined individually how sorafenib and vorinostat contribute to CD95 activation. Sorafenib (3-6 μM) promoted a dose-dependent increase in Src Y416, ERBB1 Y845 and CD95 Y232/Y291 phosphorylation, and Src Y527 dephosphorylation. Low levels of sorafenib (3 μM) –induced CD95 tyrosine phosphorylation did not promote surface localization whereas sorafenib (6 μM), or sorafenib (3 μM) and vorinostat (500 nM) treatment promoted higher levels of CD95 phosphorylation that correlated with DISC formation, receptor surface localization and autophagy. CD95 (Y232F, Y291F) was not tyrosine phosphorylated and was unable to plasma membrane localize or induce autophagy. Knock down / knock out of Src family kinases abolished sorafenib –induced: CD95 tyrosine phosphorylation; DISC formation; and the induction of cell death and autophagy. Knock down of PDGFRβ enhanced Src Y416 and CD95 tyrosine phosphorylation that correlated with elevated CD95 plasma membrane levels and autophagy, and with a reduced ability of sorafenib to promote CD95 membrane localization. Vorinostat increased ROS levels; and in a delayed NFκB-dependent fashion, those of FAS ligand and CD95. Neutralization of FAS-L did not alter the initial rapid drug-induced activation of CD95 however, neutralization of FAS-L reduced sorafenib + vorinostat toxicity by ~50%. Thus sorafenib contributes to CD95 activation by promoting receptor tyrosine phosphorylation whereas vorinostat contributes to CD95 activation via initial facilitation of ROS generation and subsequently of FAS-L expression.
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; FAS-L; cell death; autophagy
Purpose and Design
Mechanism(s) by which the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib and the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat interact to kill hepatic, renal and pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells have been defined.
Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat interacted in vitro in a synergistic fashion to kill hepatic, renal and pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells in multiple short term viability (24–96h) and in long term colony formation assays. Cell killing was suppressed by inhibition of cathepsin proteases and caspase 8, and to a lesser extent by inhibition of caspase 9. Twenty four hours after exposure, the activities of ERK1/2, AKT and NFκB were only modestly modulated by sorafenib and vorinostat treatment. However, 24h after exposure, sorafenib and vorinostat- treated cells exhibited markedly diminished expression of c-FLIP-s, full length BID, BCL-2, BCLXL, MCL-1, XIAP, increased expression of BIM, and increased activation of BAX, BAK and BAD. Expression of eIF2α S51A blocked sorafenib and vorinostat –induced suppression of c-FLIP-s levels and over-expression of c-FLIP-s abolished lethality. Sorafenib and vorinostat treatment increased surface levels of CD95 and CD95 association with caspase 8. Knock down of CD95 or FADD expression significantly reduced sorafenib / vorinostat -mediated lethality.
These data demonstrate that combined exposure of epithelial tumor cell types to sorafenib and vorinostat diminishes expression of multiple anti-apoptotic proteins, promotes activation of the CD95 extrinsic apoptotic and the lysosomal protease pathways, and that suppression of c-FLIP-s expression represents a critical event in transduction of the pro-apoptotic signals from CD95 to promote mitochondrial dysfunction and death.
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; caspase 8; cathepsin; cell death
The manuscripts by Park et al.1 and Zhang et al.2 were initially planned as studies to understand the regulation of cell survival in transformed cells treated with sorafenib and vorinostat, and in primary hepatocytes treated with a bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor. In both cell systems we discovered that the toxicity of sorafenib and vorinostat or bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor exposure depended on the generation of ceramide and the ligand-independent activation of the CD95 death receptor, with subsequent activation of pro-caspase 8. We noted, however, in these systems that, in parallel with death receptor–induced activation of the extrinsic pathway, CD95 signaling also promoted increased phosphorylation of PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) and eIF2α, increased expression of ATG5, and increased processing of LC3 and vesicularization of a GFP-LC3 construct. The knockdown of ATG5 expression blocked GFP-LC3 vesicularization and enhanced cell killing. Thus ceramide-CD95 signaling promoted cell death via activation of pro-caspase 8 and cell survival via autophagy. PERK was shown to signal in a switch-hitting fashion; PERK promoted CD95-DISC formation and an eIF2α-dependent reduction in c-FLIP-s levels that were essential for cell killing to proceed, but in parallel it also promoted autophagy that was protective. The death receptor-induced apoptosis and autophagy occur proximal to the receptor rather than the mitochondrion, and the relative flow of death receptor signaling into either pathway may determine cell fate. Finally, death receptor induced apoptosis and autophagy could be potential targets for therapeutic intervention.
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; bile acid; CD95; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of liver cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. The only approved systemic treatment for unresectable HCC is the oral kinase inhibitor, sorafenib. Recombinant human acid sphingomyelinase (rhASM), which hydrolyzes sphingomyelin to ceramide, is an orphan drug under development for the treatment of Type B Niemann-Pick disease (NPD). Due to the hepatotropic nature of rhASM and its ability to generate pro-apoptotic ceramide, this study evaluated the use of rhASM as an adjuvant treatment with sorafenib in experimental models of HCC.
In vitro, rhASM/sorafenib treatment reduced the viability of Huh7 liver cancer cells more than sorafenib. In vivo, using a subcutaneous Huh7 tumor model, mouse survival was increased and proliferation in the tumors decreased to a similar extent in both sorafenib and rhASM/sorafenib treatment groups. However, combined rhASM/sorafenib treatment significantly lowered tumor volume, increased tumor necrosis, and decreased tumor blood vessel density compared to sorafenib. These results were obtained despite poor delivery of rhASM to the tumors. A second (orthotopic) model of Huh7 tumors also was established, but modest ASM activity was similarly detected in these tumors compared to healthy mouse livers. Importantly, no chronic liver toxicity or weight loss was observed from rhASM therapy in either model.
The rhASM/sorafenib combination exhibited a synergistic effect on reducing the tumor volume and blood vessel density in Huh7 xenografts, despite modest activity of rhASM in these tumors. No significant increases in survival were observed from the rhASM/sorafenib treatment. The poor delivery of rhASM to Huh7 tumors may be due, at least in part, to low expression of mannose receptors. The safety and efficacy of this approach, together with the novel findings regarding enzyme targeting, merits further investigation.
The de novo pathway of ceramide synthesis has been implicated in the pathogenesis of excessive lung apoptosis and murine emphysema. Intracellular and paracellular-generated ceramides may trigger apoptosis and propagate the death signals to neighboring cells, respectively. In this study we compared the sphingolipid signaling pathways triggered by the paracellular- versus intracellular-generated ceramides as they induce lung endothelial cell apoptosis, a process important in emphysema development. Intermediate–chain length (C8:0) extracellular ceramides, used as a surrogate of paracellular ceramides, triggered caspase-3 activation in primary mouse lung endothelial cells, similar to TNF-α–generated endogenous ceramides. Inhibitory siRNA against serine palmitoyl transferase subunit 1 but not acid sphingomyelinase inhibited both C8:0 ceramide– and TNF-α (plus cycloheximide)–induced apoptosis, consistent with the requirement for activation of the de novo pathway of sphingolipid synthesis. Tandem mass spectrometry analysis detected increases in both relative and absolute levels of C16:0 ceramide in response to C8:0 and TNF-α treatments. These results implicate the de novo pathway of ceramide synthesis in the apoptotic effects of both paracellular ceramides and TNF-α–stimulated intracellular ceramides in primary lung endothelial cells. The serine palmitoyl synthase-regulated ceramides synthesis may contribute to the amplification of pulmonary vascular injury induced by excessive ceramides.
apoptosis; lung; cytokines; signaling; sphingolipids
Alveolar cell apoptosis is involved in the pathogenesis of emphysema, a prevalent disease primarily caused by cigarette smoking. We report that ceramide, a second messenger lipid, is a critical mediator of alveolar destruction in emphysema. Inhibition of enzymes controlling de novo ceramide synthesis prevented alveolar cell apoptosis, oxidative stress and emphysema caused by blockade of the VEGF receptors in both rats and mice. Emphysema was reproduced with intra-tracheal instillation of ceramide in naïve mice. A feed-forward mechanism of ceramide synthesis due secretory acid sphingomyelinase was supported by the neutralizing effects of ceramide-specific antibody in mice and by sphingomyelinase-deficient fibroblasts. Stimulation of sphingosine-1-phosphate signaling prevented lung apoptosis, implicating that ceramide to sphingosine-1-phosphate balance is required for maintenance of alveolar septal integrity. Finally, increased lung ceramides in patients with smoking-induced emphysema position ceramide upregulation as a critical pathogenetic element and a promising target in this disease lacking effective therapies.
Amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) accumulation in senile plaques, a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD), has been implicated in neuronal degeneration. We have recently demonstrated that Aβ induced oligodendrocyte (OLG) apoptosis, suggesting a role in white matter pathology in AD. Here, we explore the molecular mechanisms involved in Aβ-induced OLG death, examining the potential role of ceramide, a known apoptogenic mediator. Both Aβ and ceramide induced OLG death. In addition, Aβ activated neutral sphingomyelinase (nSMase), but not acidic sphingomyelinase, resulting in increased ceramide generation. Blocking ceramide degradation with N-oleoyl-ethanolamine exacerbated Aβ cytotoxicity; and addition of bacterial sphingomyelinase (mimicking cellular nSMase activity) induced OLG death. Furthermore, nSMase inhibition by 3-O-methyl-sphingomyelin or by gene knockdown using antisense oligonucleotides attenuated Aβ-induced OLG death. Glutathione (GSH) precursors inhibited Aβ activation of nSMase and prevented OLG death, whereas GSH depletors increased nSMase activity and Aβ-induced death. These results suggest that Aβ induces OLG death by activating the nSMase–ceramide cascade via an oxidative mechanism.
Alzheimer's disease; apoptosis; cell death; oxidative stress; white matter
We previously established a role for the second messenger ceramide in protein kinase R (PKR)-mediated articular cartilage degradation. Ceramide is known to play a dual role in collagen gene regulation, with the effect of ceramide on collagen promoter activity being dependent on its concentration. Treatment of cells with low doses of sphingomyelinase produces small increases in endogenous ceramide. We investigated whether ceramide influences articular chondrocyte matrix homeostasis and, if so, the role of PKR in this process. Bovine articular chondrocytes were stimulated for 7 days with sphingomyelinase to increase endogenous levels of ceramide. To inhibit PKR, 2-aminopurine was added to duplicate cultures. De novo sulphated glycosaminoglycan and collagen synthesis were measured by adding [35S]-sulphate and [3H]-proline to the media, respectively. Chondrocyte phenotype was investigated using RT-PCR and Western blot analysis. Over 7 days, sphingomyelinase increased the release of newly synthesized sulphated glycosaminoglycan and collagen into the media, whereas inhibition of PKR in sphingomyelinase-treated cells reduced the level of newly synthesized sulphated glycosaminoglycan and collagen. Sphingomyelinase treated chondrocytes expressed col2a1 mRNA, which is indicative of a normal chondrocyte phenotype; however, a significant reduction in type II collagen protein was detected. Therefore, small increments in endogenous ceramide in chondrocytes appear to push the homeostatic balance toward extracellular matrix synthesis but at the expense of the chondrocytic phenotype, which was, in part, mediated by PKR.
Ceramides are signaling sphingolipids involved in cellular homeostasis but also in pathological processes such as unwanted apoptosis, growth arrest, oxidative stress, or senescence. Several enzymatic pathways are responsible for the synthesis of ceramides, which can be activated in response to exogenous stimuli such as cytokines, radiation, or oxidative stress. Endothelial cells are particularly rich in acid sphingomyelinases, which can be rapidly activated to produce ceramides, both intracellular and at the plasma membrane. In addition, neutral sphingomyelinases, the de novo pathway and the ceramide recycling pathway, may generate excessive ceramides involved in endothelial cell responses. When up-regulated, ceramides trigger signaling pathways that culminate in endothelial cell death, which in murine lungs has been linked to the development of emphysema-like disease. Furthermore, ceramides may be released paracellularly where they are believed to exert paracrine activities. Such effects, along with ceramides released by inflammatory mediators, may contribute to lung inflammation and pulmonary edema, because ceramide-challenged pulmonary endothelial cells exhibit decreased barrier function, independent of apoptosis. Reestablishing the sphingolipid homeostasis, either by modulating ceramide synthesis or by opposing its biological effects through augmentation of the prosurvival sphingosine-1 phosphate, may alleviate acute or chronic pulmonary conditions characterized by vascular endothelial cell death or dysfunction.
sphingolipids; apoptosis; pulmonary emphysema; acute lung injury; pulmonary circulation
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection can be fatal to immunocompromised individuals. We have previously reported that gamma interferon and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) synergistically inhibit HCMV replication in vitro. Ceramides have been described as second messengers induced by TNF-α. To investigate the mechanisms involved in the inhibition of HCMV by TNF-α, in the present study we have analyzed ceramide production by U373 MG astrocytoma cells and the effects of TNF-α versus ceramides on HCMV replication. Our results show that U373 MG cells did not produce ceramides upon incubation with TNF-α. Moreover, long-chain ceramides induced by treatment with exogenous bacterial sphingomyelinase inhibited HCMV replication in synergy with TNF-α. Surprisingly, short-chain permeant C6-ceramide increased viral replication. Our results show that the anti-HCMV activity of TNF-α is independent of ceramides. In addition, our results suggest that TNF-α and endogenous long-chain ceramides use separate pathways of cell signalling to inhibit HCMV replication, while permeant C6-ceramide appears to activate a third pathway leading to an opposite effect.
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the combination of vorinostat and epigallocatechin-3-gallate against HuCC-T1 human cholangiocarcinoma cells. A novel chemotherapy strategy is required as cholangiocarcinomas rarely respond to conventional chemotherapeutic agents. Both vorinostat and EGCG induce apoptosis and suppress invasion, migration, and angiogenesis of tumor cells. The combination of vorinostat and EGCG showed synergistic growth inhibitory effects and induced apoptosis in tumor cells. The Bax/Bcl-2 expression ratio and caspase-3 and -7 activity increased, but poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase expression decreased when compared to treatment with each agent alone. Furthermore, invasion, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression, and migration of tumor cells decreased following treatment with the vorinostat and EGCG combination compared to those of vorinostat or EGCG alone. Tube length and junction number of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) decreased as well as vascular endothelial growth factor expression following vorinostat and EGCG combined treatment. These results indicate that the combination of vorinostat and EGCG had a synergistic effect on inhibiting tumor cell angiogenesis potential. We suggest that the combination of vorinostat and EGCG is a novel option for cholangiocarcinoma chemotherapy.
Muscle atrophy associated with various pathophysiological conditions represents a major health problem, because of its contribution to the deterioration of patient status and its effect on mortality. Although the involvement of pro-inflammatory cytokines in this process is well recognized, the role of sphingolipid metabolism alterations induced by the cytokines has received little attention.
We addressed this question both in vitro using differentiated myotubes treated with TNF-α, and in vivo in a murine model of tumor-induced cachexia. Myotube atrophy induced by TNF-α was accompanied by a substantial increase in cell ceramide levels, and could be mimicked by the addition of exogenous ceramides. It could be prevented by the addition of ceramide-synthesis inhibitors that targeted either the de novo pathway (myriocin), or the sphingomyelinases (GW4869 and 3-O-methylsphingomyelin). In the presence of TNF-α, ceramide-synthesis inhibitors significantly increased protein synthesis and decreased proteolysis. In parallel, they lowered the expression of both the Atrogin-1 and LC3b genes, involved in muscle protein degradation by proteasome and in autophagic proteolysis, respectively, and increased the proportion of inactive, phosphorylated Foxo3 transcription factor. Furthermore, these inhibitors increased the expression and/or phosphorylation levels of key factors regulating protein metabolism, including phospholipase D, an activator of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), and the mTOR substrates S6K1 and Akt. In vivo, C26 carcinoma implantation induced a substantial increase in muscle ceramide, together with drastic muscle atrophy. Treatment of the animals with myriocin reduced the expression of the atrogenes Foxo3 and Atrogin-1, and partially protected muscle tissue from atrophy.
Ceramide accumulation induced by TNF-α or tumor development participates in the mechanism of muscle-cell atrophy, and sphingolipid metabolism is a logical target for pharmacological or nutritional interventions aiming at preserving muscle mass in pathological situations.
Recent investigations provided evidence that the sphingomyelin signal transduction pathway mediates apoptosis for tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) in several hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cells. In this pathway, TNF-receptor interaction initiates sphingomyelin hydrolysis to ceramide by a sphingomyelinase. Ceramide acts as a second messenger stimulating a ceramide-activated serine/threonine protein kinase. The present studies show that ionizing radiation, like TNF, induces rapid sphingomyelin hydrolysis to ceramide and apoptosis in bovine aortic endothelial cells. Elevation of ceramide with exogenous ceramide analogues was sufficient for induction of apoptosis. Protein kinase C activation blocked both radiation-induced sphingomyelin hydrolysis and apoptosis, and apoptosis was restored by ceramide analogues added exogenously. Ionizing radiation acted directly on membrane preparations devoid of nuclei, stimulating sphingomyelin hydrolysis enzymatically through a neutral sphingomyelinase. These studies provide the first conclusive evidence that apoptotic signaling can be generated by interaction of ionizing radiation with cellular membranes and suggest an alternative to the hypothesis that direct DNA damage mediates radiation-induced cell kill.
Sphingolipids have emerged as bioeffector molecules, controlling various aspects of cell growth and proliferation in cancer, which is becoming the deadliest disease in the world. These lipid molecules have also been implicated in the mechanism of action of cancer chemotherapeutics. Ceramide, the central molecule of sphingolipid metabolism, generally mediates antiproliferative responses, such as cell growth inhibition, apoptosis induction, senescence modulation, endoplasmic reticulum stress responses and/or autophagy. Interestingly, recent studies suggest de novo-generated ceramides may have distinct and opposing roles in the promotion/suppression of tumors, and that these activities are based on their fatty acid chain lengths, subcellular localization and/or direct downstream targets. For example, in head and neck cancer cells, ceramide synthase 6/C16-ceramide addiction was revealed, and this was associated with increased tumor growth, whereas downregulation of its synthesis resulted in ER stress-induced apoptosis. By contrast, ceramide synthase 1-generated C18-ceramide has been shown to suppress tumor growth in various cancer models, both in situ and in vivo. In addition, ceramide metabolism to generate sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) by sphingosine kinases 1 and 2 mediates, with or without the involvement of G-protein-coupled S1P receptor signaling, prosurvival, angiogenesis, metastasis and/or resistance to drug-induced apoptosis. Importantly, recent findings regarding the mechanisms by which sphingolipid metabolism and signaling regulate tumor growth and progression, such as identifying direct intracellular protein targets of sphingolipids, have been key for the development of new chemotherapeutic strategies. Thus, in this article, we will present conclusions of recent studies that describe opposing roles of de novo-generated ceramides by ceramide synthases and/or S1P in the regulation of cancer pathogenesis, as well as the development of sphingolipid-based cancer therapeutics and drug resistance.
apoptosis; autophagy; chemoresistance; endoplasmic reticulum stress; sphingolipid; sphingolipid; protein binding
The present studies were designed to determine whether the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib (Nexavar) interacted with histone deacetylase inhibitors to kill glioblastoma and medulloblastoma cells. In a dose-dependent fashion sorafenib lethality was enhanced in multiple genetically disparate primary human glioblastoma isolates by the HDAC inhibitor sodium valproate (Depakote). Drug exposure reduced phosphorylation of p70 S6K and of mTOR. Similar data to that with valproate were also obtained using the HDAC inhibitor vorinostat (Zolinza). Sorafenib and valproate also interacted to kill medulloblastoma and PNET cell lines. Treatment with sorafenib and HDAC inhibitors radio-sensitized both GBM and medulloblastoma cell lines. Knock down of death receptor (CD95) expression protected GBM cells from the drug combination, as did overexpression of c-FLIP-s, BCL-XL and dominant negative caspase 9. Knock down of PDGFRα recapitulated the effect of sorafenib in combination with HDAC inhibitors. Collectively, our data demonstrate that the combination of sorafenib and HDAC inhibitors kills through activation of the extrinsic pathway, and could represent a useful approach to treat CNS-derived tumors.
HDAC inhibitor; Sorafenib; apoptosis; glioma
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common human demyelinating disease of the central nervous system where oxidative stress has been proposed to play an important role in oligodendroglial death. However, molecular mechanisms that couple oxidative stress to the loss of oligodendrocytes are poorly understood. This study underlines the importance of neutral sphingomyelinase–ceramide pathway in mediating oxidative stress-induced apoptosis and cell death of human primary oligodendrocytes. Various oxidative stress-inducing agents, such as, superoxide radical produced by hypoxanthine and xanthine oxidase, hydrogen peroxide, aminotriazole capable of inhibiting catalase and increasing intracellular level of H2O2, or reduced glutathione-depleting diamide induced the activation of neutral sphingomyelinase and the production of ceramide. It is interesting to note that antisense knockdown of neutral but not acidic sphingomyelinase ablated oxidative stress-induced apoptosis and cell death in human primary oligodendrocytes. This study identifies neutral but not acidic sphingomyelinase as a target for possible therapeutic intervention in MS.
oligodendrocytes; cell death; oxidative stress; ceramide; neutral sphingomyelinase; antisense knockdown
Tumor escape is linked to multiple mechanisms, notably the liberation, by tumor cells, of soluble factors that inhibit the function of dendritic cells (DC). We have shown that melanoma gangliosides impair DC differentiation and induce their apoptosis. The present study was aimed to give insight into the mechanisms involved. DC apoptosis was independent of the catabolism of gangliosides since lactosylceramide did not induce cell death. Apoptosis induced by GM3 and GD3 gangliosides was not blocked by inhibitors of de novo ceramide biosynthesis, whereas the acid sphingomyelinase inhibitor desipramine only prevented apoptosis induced by GM3. Furthermore, our results suggest that DC apoptosis was triggered via caspase activation, and it was ROS dependent with GD3 ganglioside, suggesting that GM3 and GD3 induced apoptosis through different mechanisms.
acid sphingomyelinase; apoptosis; ceramides; dendritic cells; gangliosides; melanoma
Escape of prostate cancer (PCa) cells from ionizing radiation–induced (IR-induced) killing leads to disease progression and cancer relapse. The influence of sphingolipids, such as ceramide and its metabolite sphingosine 1-phosphate, on signal transduction pathways under cell stress is important to survival adaptation responses. In this study, we demonstrate that ceramide-deacylating enzyme acid ceramidase (AC) was preferentially upregulated in irradiated PCa cells. Radiation-induced AC gene transactivation by activator protein 1 (AP-1) binding on the proximal promoter was sensitive to inhibition of de novo ceramide biosynthesis, as demonstrated by promoter reporter and ChIP-qPCR analyses. Our data indicate that a protective feedback mechanism mitigates the apoptotic effect of IR-induced ceramide generation. We found that deregulation of c-Jun induced marked radiosensitization in vivo and in vitro, which was rescued by ectopic AC overexpression. AC overexpression in PCa clonogens that survived a fractionated 80-Gy IR course was associated with increased radioresistance and proliferation, suggesting a role for AC in radiotherapy failure and relapse. Immunohistochemical analysis of human PCa tissues revealed higher levels of AC after radiotherapy failure than those in therapy-naive PCa, prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, or benign tissues. Addition of an AC inhibitor to an animal model of xenograft irradiation produced radiosensitization and prevention of relapse. These data indicate that AC is a potentially tractable target for adjuvant radiotherapy.
Resistance to genotoxic therapy is a characteristic feature of glioma cells. Acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) hydrolyzes sphingomyelin to ceramide and glucosylceramide synthase (GCS) catalyzes ceramide metabolism. Increased ceramide levels have been suggested to enhance chemotherapy-induced death of cancer cells.
Microarray and clinical data for ASM and GCS in astrocytomas WHO grade II–IV were acquired from the Rembrandt database. Moreover, the glioblastoma database of the Cancer Genome Atlas network (TCGA) was used for survival data of glioblastoma patients. For in vitro studies, increases in ceramide levels were achieved either by ASM overexpression or by the GCS inhibitor DL-threo-1-phenyl-2-palmitoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol (PPMP) in human glioma cell lines. Combinations of alkylating chemotherapy or irradiation and ASM overexpression, PPMP or exogenous ceramide were applied in parental cells. The anti-glioma effects were investigated by assessing proliferation, metabolic activity, viability and clonogenicity. Finally, viability and clonogenicity were assessed in temozolomide (TMZ)-resistant cells upon treatment with PPMP, exogenous ceramide, alkylating chemotherapy, irradiation or their combinations.
Interrogations from the Rembrandt and TCGA database showed a better survival of glioblastoma patients with low expression of ASM or GCS. ASM overexpression or PPMP treatment alone led to ceramide accumulation but did not enhance the anti-glioma activity of alkylating chemotherapy or irradiation. PPMP or exogenous ceramide induced acute cytotoxicity in glioblastoma cells. Combined treatments with chemotherapy or irradiation led to additive, but not synergistic effects. Finally, no synergy was found when TMZ-resistant cells were treated with exogenous ceramide or PPMP alone or in combination with TMZ or irradiation.
Modulation of intrinsic glioma cell ceramide levels by ASM overexpression or GCS inhibition does not enhance the anti-glioma activity of alkylating chemotherapy or irradiation.
Opioids are the most widely used drugs for long-term pain management, but their use is limited by the development of antinociceptive tolerance. The present study investigated the role of ceramide production via acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) activation in the periaqueductal gray region, a brain region implicated in opioid analgesia and tolerance. Morphine treatment was found using immunohistochemistry to increase ASM expression and intracellular ceramide in the periaqueductal gray 30 min after acute injection (10 mg/kg). The effects of acute morphine treatment on ASM expression and ceramide generation in the periaqueductal gray region were completely blocked by pretreatment with naloxone and by silencing the ASM gene by plasmid-mediated transfection of ASM shRNA. In chronic morphine pellet-implanted mice, ASM expression and ceramide generation in the periaqueductal gray region were also significantly increased. Functionally, selective silencing of the ASM gene by local ASM shRNA transfection reduced the analgesic response to acute morphine, but the data regarding the ASM shRNA effect on development of antinociceptive tolerance were inconclusive. These data provide evidence that ASM activation and ceramide generation in the periaqueductal gray region is importantly involved in the antinociceptive mechanism of morphine.
Acid sphingomyelinase; ceramide; periaqueductal gray region; morphine tolerance; mu opioid receptor
Sindbis virus (SV) causes acute encephalomyelitis by infecting and inducing the death of neurons. Induction of apoptosis occurs during virus entry and involves acid-induced conformational changes in the viral surface glycoproteins and sphingomyelin (SM)-dependent fusion of the virus envelope with the endosomal membrane. We have studied neuroblastoma cells to determine how this entry process triggers cell death. Acidic sphingomyelinase was activated during entry followed by activation of neutral sphingomyelinase, SM degradation, and a sustained increase in ceramide. Ceramide-induced apoptosis and SV-induced apoptosis could be inhibited by treatment with Z-VAD-fmk, a caspase inhibitor, and by overexpression of Bcl-2, an antiapoptotic cellular protein. Acid ceramidase, expressed in a recombinant SV, decreased intracellular ceramide and protected cells from apoptosis. The data suggest that acid-induced SM-dependent virus fusion initiates the apoptotic cascade by inducing SM degradation and ceramide release.
Despite the availability of several Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs, advanced inoperable colorectal cancer remains incurable. In this study, we focused on the development of combined molecular targeted therapies against colon cancer by testing the efficacy of the combination of the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat with the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib to determine if this resulted in synergistic antitumor effects against colorectal cancer. The effects of the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat in combination with the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib on the growth of two colorectal cancer cell lines were assessed with regard to proliferation, cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis. Treatment with the combination of vorinostat and bortezomib resulted in a synergistic decrease in proliferation of both colorectal cancer cell lines compared with treatment with single agents alone. This inhibition was associated with a synergistic increase in apoptosis as measured by caspase-3/7 activity and cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. In addition, we observed an increase in the proapoptotic protein BIM and in the number of cells arrested in the G2-M phase of the cell cycle. Although p21 levels were significantly increased, short hairpin RNA knockdown of p21 did not lead to changes in proliferation in response to the combination of drugs, indicating that although p21 is a target of these drugs, it is not required to mediate their antiproliferative effects. These data indicate that combination treatment with vorinostat and bortezomib result in synergistic antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects against colon cancer cell lines, providing a rational basis for the clinical use of this combination for the treatment of colorectal cancer.
Proteases are now firmly established as major regulators of the “execution” phase of apoptosis. Here, we examine the role of proteases and their relationship to ceramide, a proposed mediator of apoptosis, in the tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)–induced pathway of cell death. Ceramide induced activation of prICE, the protease that cleaves the death substrate poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. Bcl-2 inhibited ceramide-induced death, but not ceramide generation. In contrast, Cytokine response modifier A (CrmA), a potent inhibitor of Interleukin-1β converting enzyme and related proteases, inhibited ceramide generation and prevented TNF-α–induced death. Exogenous ceramide could overcome the CrmA block to cell death, but not the Bcl-2 block. CrmA, however, did not inhibit the activation of nuclear factor (NF)-κB by TNF-α, demonstrating that other signaling functions of TNF-α remain intact and that ceramide does not play a role in the activation of NF-κB. These studies support a distinct role for proteases in the signaling/activation phase of apoptosis acting upstream of ceramide formation.
Chromatin modification through histone deacetylase inhibition has shown evidence of activity against malignancies. The mechanism of action of such agents are pleiotropic and potentially tumor specific. In this study, we studied the mechanisms of vorinostat-induced cellular effects in gliomas. The effects of vorinostat on proliferation, induction of apoptosis and cell cycle effects were studied in vitro (D54, U87 and U373 glioma cell lines). To gain additional insights into its effects on human gliomas, vorinostat-induced changes were examined ex vivo using a novel organotypic human glioma slice model. Vorinostat treatment resulted in increased p21 levels in all glioma cells tested in a p53 independent manner. In addition, cyclin B1 levels were transcriptionally downregulated and resulted in reduced kinase activity of the cyclin B1/cdkl complex causing a G2 arrest. These effects were associated with a dose- and time-dependent inhibition of cellular proliferation and anchorage-independent growth in association with hyperacetylation of core histones and induction of apoptosis. Of particular significance, we demonstrate histone hyperacetylation and increased p21 levels in freshly resected human glioma specimens maintained as organotypic slice cultures and exposed to vorinostat similar to cell lines suggesting that human glioma can be targeted by this agent. Our data suggest that the effects of vorinostat are associated with modulation of cell cycle related proteins and activation of a G2 checkpoint along with induction of apoptosis. These effects are mediated by both transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms which provide potential options that can be exploited to develop new therapeutic approaches against gliomas.
Histone deacetylase inhibitors; Malignant glioma; Apoptosis; Cell cycle arrest; Organotypic slice cultures