De novo fatty acid synthesis-driven sphingolipid metabolism promotes metastatic potential of colorectal cancer

Naser Jafari, James Drury, Andrew Morris, Fredrick O. Onono, Payton D. Stevens, Tianyan Gao, Jinpeng Liu, Chi Wang, Eun Y. Lee, Heidi L. Weiss, B. Mark Evers, Yekaterina Y. Zaytseva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Metastasis is the most common cause of death in colorectal cancer patients. Fatty acid synthase (FASN) and sphingosine kinase-1 and -2 (SPHK1 and 2) are overexpressed in many cancers, including colorectal cancer. However, the contribution of FASN-mediated upregulation of sphingolipid metabolism to colorectal cancer metastasis and the potential of these pathways as targets for therapeutic intervention remain unknown. This study determined that sphingosine kinases (SPHK) are overexpressed in colorectal cancer as compared with normal mucosa. FASN expression significantly correlated with SPHK2 expression in data sets from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and a colorectal cancer tumor microarray. FASN, SPHK1, and SPHK2 colocalized within invadopodia of primary colorectal cancer cells. Moreover, FASN inhibition decreased SPHK2 expression and the levels of dihydrosphingosine 1-phosphate (DH-S1P) and sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) in colorectal cancer cells and tumor tissues. Inhibition of FASN using TVB-3664 and sphingolipid metabolism using FTY-720 significantly inhibited the ability of primary colorectal cancer cells to proliferate, migrate, form focal adhesions, and degrade gelatin. Inhibition of the FASN/SPHK/S1P axis was accompanied by decreased activation of p-MET, p-FAK, and p-PAX. S1P treatment rescued FASN-mediated inhibition of these proteins, suggesting that FASN promotes metastatic properties of colorectal cancer cells, in part, through an increased sphingolipid metabolism. These data demonstrate that upregulation of the FASN/SPHK/S1P axis promotes colorectal cancer progression by enhancing proliferation, adhesion, and migration. Implications: This study provides a strong rationale for further investigation of the interconnection of de novo lipogenesis and sphingolipid metabolism that could potentially lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets and strategies for colorectal cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-152
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
2018 American Association for Cancer Research.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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