Research Papers:

Diacylglycerol kinase α promotes 3D cancer cell growth and limits drug sensitivity through functional interaction with Src

Pedro Torres-Ayuso, Manuel Daza-Martín, Jorge Martín-Pérez, Antonia Ávila-Flores _ and Isabel Mérida

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:9710-9726. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2344

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Pedro Torres-Ayuso1, Manuel Daza-Martín1, Jorge Martín-Pérez2, Antonia Ávila-Flores1 and Isabel Mérida1

1 Department of Immunology and Oncology, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología/CSIC, Madrid, Spain

2 Department of Cancer Biology, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas Alberto Sols/CSIC, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain


Antonia Ávila-Flores, email:

Isabel Mérida, email:

Keywords: Diacylglycerol kinase, Src, 3D tumor growth, chemotherapy resistance, PI3K/Akt

Received: August 05, 2014 Accepted: August 11, 2014 Published: August 12, 2014


Diacylglycerol kinase (DGK)α converts diacylglycerol to phosphatidic acid. This lipid kinase sustains survival, migration and invasion of tumor cells, with no effect over untransformed cells, suggesting its potential as a cancer-specific target. Nonetheless the mechanisms that underlie DGKα specific contribution to cancer survival have not been elucidated. Using three-dimensional (3D) colon and breast cancer cell cultures, we demonstrate that DGKα upregulation is part of the transcriptional program that results in Src activation in these culture conditions. Pharmacological or genetic DGKα silencing impaired tumor growth in vivo confirming its function in malignant transformation. DGKα-mediated Src regulation contributed to limit the effect of Src inhibitors, and its transcriptional upregulation in response to PI3K/Akt inhibitors resulted in reduced toxicity. Src oncogenic properties and contribution to pharmacological resistance have been linked to its overactivation in cancer. DGKα participation in this central node helps to explain why its pharmacological inhibition or siRNA-mediated targeting specifically alters tumor viability with no effect on untransformed cells. Our results identify DGKα-mediated stabilization of Src activation as an important mechanism in tumor growth, and suggest that targeting this enzyme, alone or in combination with other inhibitors in wide clinical use, could constitute a treatment strategy for aggressive forms of cancer.

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