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Biomolecules 2013, 3(3), 481-513; doi:10.3390/biom3030481

The Impact of Sphingosine Kinase-1 in Head and Neck Cancer

1 Cancer Biology Program, University of Hawaii Cancer Center, 701 Ilalo Street, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA 2 Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96818, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 July 2013 / Revised: 2 August 2013 / Accepted: 3 August 2013 / Published: 12 August 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sphingolipids and Bioactive Lipids)
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Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has a high reoccurrence rate and an extremely low survival rate. There is limited availability of effective therapies to reduce the rate of recurrence, resulting in high morbidity and mortality of advanced cases. Late presentation, delay in detection of lesions, and a high rate of metastasis make HNSCC a devastating disease. This review offers insight into the role of sphingosine kinase-1 (SphK1), a key enzyme in sphingolipid metabolism, in HNSCC. Sphingolipids not only play a structural role in cellular membranes, but also modulate cell signal transduction pathways to influence biological outcomes such as senescence, differentiation, apoptosis, migration, proliferation, and angiogenesis. SphK1 is a critical regulator of the delicate balance between proliferation and apoptosis. The highest expression of SphK1 is found in the advanced stage of disease, and there is a positive correlation between SphK1 expression and recurrent tumors. On the other hand, silencing SphK1 reduces HNSCC tumor growth and sensitizes tumors to radiation-induced death.  Thus, SphK1 plays an important and influential role in determining HNSCC proliferation and metastasis. We discuss roles of SphK1 and other sphingolipids in HNSCC development and therapeutic strategies against HNSCC.
Keywords: sphingolipids; SphK1; S1P; head and neck cancer; invasion and proliferation sphingolipids; SphK1; S1P; head and neck cancer; invasion and proliferation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Tamashiro, P.M.; Furuya, H.; Shimizu, Y.; Iino, K.; Kawamori, T. The Impact of Sphingosine Kinase-1 in Head and Neck Cancer. Biomolecules 2013, 3, 481-513.

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