Research Papers:

Sphingosine kinase 1 is overexpressed and promotes adrenocortical carcinoma progression

Yunze Xu, Baijun Dong, Jiwei Huang, Wen Kong, Wei Xue, Yu Zhu, Jin Zhang and Yiran Huang _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:3233-3244. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6564

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Yunze Xu1,*, Baijun Dong1,*, Jiwei Huang1, Wen Kong1, Wei Xue1, Yu Zhu2, Jin Zhang1, Yiran Huang1

1Department of Urology, Ren Ji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China

2Department of Urology, Ruijin Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Yiran Huang, e-mail: [email protected]

Jin Zhang, e-mail: [email protected]

Yu Zhu, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: adrenocortical carcinoma, sphingosine kinase 1, progression, prognosis, FTY720

Received: August 03, 2015     Accepted: November 21, 2015     Published: December 11, 2015


Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare endocrine tumor with a very poor prognosis. Sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1), an oncogenic kinase, has previously been found to be upregulated in various cancers. However, the role of the SphK1 in ACC has not been investigated. In this study, SphK1 mRNA and protein expression levels as well as clinicopathological significance were evaluated in ACC samples. In vitro siRNA knockdown of SphK1 in two ACC cell lines (H295R and SW13) was used to determine its effect on cellular proliferation and invasion. In addition, we further evaluated the effect of SphK1 antagonist fingolimod (FTY720) in ACC in vitro and in vivo, as a single agent or in combination with mitotane, and attempted to explore its anticarcinogenic mechanisms. Our results show a significant over-expression of SphK1 mRNA and protein expression in the carcinomas compared with adenomas (P < 0.01 for all comparisons). Functionally, konckdown of SphK1 gene expression in ACC cell lines significantly decreased cell proliferation and invasion. FTY720 could result in a decreased cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis, and the combination of mitotane and FTY720 resulted in a greater anti-proliferative effect over single agent treatment in SW13 cells. Furthermore, FTY720 could markedly inhibit tumor growth in ACC xenografts. SphK1 expression is functionally associated to cellular proliferation, apoptosis, invasion and mitotane sensitivity of ACC. Our data suggest that SphK1 might be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of ACC.

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