J Cancer 2020; 11(16):4683-4690. doi:10.7150/jca.46269

Research Paper

Targeting Sphingosine Kinase by ABC294640 against Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)

Lu Dai1#, Jungang Chen1#, Zhen Lin2#, Zhaoxiong Wang2, Shengyu Mu3, Zhiqiang Qin1✉

1. Departments of Pathology, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.
2. Department of Pathology, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, Tulane Cancer Center, 1700 Tulane Ave., New Orleans, LA 70112, USA.
3. Pharmacology & Toxicology, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.
#These authors contributed equally to this work.

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Citation:
Dai L, Chen J, Lin Z, Wang Z, Mu S, Qin Z. Targeting Sphingosine Kinase by ABC294640 against Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). J Cancer 2020; 11(16):4683-4690. doi:10.7150/jca.46269. Available from http://www.jcancer.org/v11p4683.htm

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Abstract

As a highly aggressive pediatric brainstem tumor, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) accounts for 10% to 20% of childhood brain tumors. The survival rate for DIPG remains very low, with a median survival time as less than one year even under radiotherapy, the current standard treatment. Moreover, over than 250 clinical trials have failed when trying to improve the survival compared to radiotherapy. The sphingolipid metabolism and related signaling pathways have been found closely related to cancer cell survival; however, the sphingolipid metabolism targeted therapies have never been investigated in DIPG. In the current study, the anti-DIPG activity of ABC294640, the only first-in-class orally available Sphingosine kinase (SphK) inhibitor was explored. Treatment with ABC294640 significantly repressed DIPG cell growth by inducing intracellular pro-apoptotic ceramides production and cell apoptosis. We also profiled ABC294640-induced changes in gene expression within DIPG cells and identified many new genes tightly controlled by sphingolipid metabolism, such as IFITM1 and KAL1. These genes are required for DIPG cell survival and display clinical relevance in DIPG patients' samples. Together, our findings in this study indicate that targeting sphingolipid metabolism may represent a promising strategy to improve DIPG treatment.

Keywords: sphingolipid, ceramide, brain tumor, DIPG, pediatric cancer