Acid ceramidase induces sphingosine kinase 1/S1P receptor 2-mediated activation of oncogenic Akt signaling

T. H. Beckham, J. C. Cheng, P. Lu, Y. Shao, D. Troyer, R. Lance, S. T. Marrison, J. S. Norris, X. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Acid ceramidase (AC) is overexpressed in most prostate tumors and confers oncogenic phenotypes to prostate cancer cells. AC modulates the cellular balance between ceramide, sphingosine and sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P). These bioactive sphingolipids have diverse, powerful and often oppositional impacts on cell signaling, including the activation status of the oncogenic kinase Akt. Our studies show that AC expression correlates with phosphorylation of Akt in human prostate tumors, and elevation of phosphorylated Akt in tumor versus patient-matched benign tissue is contingent upon AC elevation. Investigation of the mechanism for AC-induced Akt activation revealed that AC activates Akt through sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1)-derived generation of S1P. This signaling pathway proceeds through S1P receptor 2 (S1PR2)-dependent stimulation of PI3K. Functionally, ACoverexpressing cells are insensitive to cytotoxic chemotherapy, however, these cells are more susceptible to targeted inhibition of Akt. AC-overexpressing cells proliferate more rapidly than control cells and form more colonies in soft agar; however, these effects are profoundly sensitive to Akt inhibition, demonstrating increased dependence on Akt signaling for the oncogenic phenotypes of AC-overexpressing cells. These observations may have clinical implications for targeted therapy as PI3K and Akt inhibitors emerge from clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere49
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Acid ceramidase
  • Akt
  • Sphingolipids
  • Sphingosine 1-phosphate
  • Sphingosine kinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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