Research Papers:

Antitumor effect of the novel sphingosine kinase 2 inhibitor ABC294640 is enhanced by inhibition of autophagy and by sorafenib in human cholangiocarcinoma cells

Xiwei Ding, Roongruedee Chaiteerakij, Catherine D. Moser, Hassan Shaleh, Jeffrey Boakye, Gang Chen, Albert Ndzengue, Ying Li, Yanling Zhou, Shengbing Huang, Frank A. Sinicrope, Xiaoping Zou, Melanie B. Thomas, Charles D. Smith and Lewis R. Roberts _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:20080-20092. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.7914

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Xiwei Ding1,2, Roongruedee Chaiteerakij2,3, Catherine D. Moser2, Hassan Shaleh2, Jeffrey Boakye2, Gang Chen2, Albert Ndzengue2, Ying Li2, Yanling Zhou2, Shengbing Huang2, Frank A. Sinicrope2, Xiaoping Zou1, Melanie B. Thomas4, Charles D. Smith5, Lewis R. Roberts2

1Department of Gastroenterology, The Affiliated Drum Tower Hospital of Nanjing University Medical School, Nanjing, China

2Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Rochester, MN, USA

3Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University and King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Thai Red Cross Society, Bangkok, Thailand

4Hollings Cancer Center, Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA

5Apogee Biotechnology Corporation, Hummelstown, PA, USA

Correspondence to:

Lewis R. Roberts, e-mail: [email protected]

Xiaoping Zou, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: cholangiocarcinoma, sphingosine kinase 2, ABC294640, autophagy, sorafenib

Received: August 13, 2015     Accepted: February 13, 2016     Published: March 04, 2016


Sphingosine kinase 2 (Sphk2) has an oncogenic role in cancer. A recently developed first-in-class Sphk2 specific inhibitor ABC294640 displays antitumor activity in many cancer models. However, the role of Sphk2 and the antitumor activity of its inhibitor ABC294640 are not known in cholangiocarcinoma. We investigated the potential of targeting Sphk2 for the treatment of cholangiocarcinoma. We found that Sphk2 is overexpressed in five established human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines (WITT, HuCCT1, EGI-1, OZ and HuH28) and a new patient-derived cholangiocarcinoma cell line (LIV27) compared to H69 normal cholangiocytes. Inhibition of Sphk2 by ABC294640 inhibited proliferation and induced caspase-dependent apoptosis. Furthermore, we found that ABC294640 inhibited STAT3 phosphorylation, one of the key signaling pathways regulating cholangiocarcinoma cell proliferation and survival. ABC294640 also induced autophagy. Inhibition of autophagy by bafilomycin A1 or chloroquine potentiated ABC294640-induced cytotoxicity and apoptosis. In addition, ABC294640 in combination with sorafenib synergistically inhibited cell proliferation of cholangiocarcinoma cells. Strong decreases in STAT3 phosphorylation were observed in WITT and HuCCT1 cells exposed to the ABC294640 and sorafenib combination. These findings provide novel evidence that Sphk2 may be a rational therapeutic target in cholangiocarcinoma. Combinations of ABC294640 with sorafenib and/or autophagy inhibitors may provide novel strategies for the treatment of cholangiocarcinoma.

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