High CerS5 expression levels associate with reduced patient survival and transition from apoptotic to autophagy signalling pathways in colorectal cancer
Sheehan, Katherine M.
Kay, Elaine W.
Kijanka, Gregor S.
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Fitzgerald, Seán, Sheehan, Katherine M, Espina, Virginia, O'Grady, Anthony, Cummins, Robert, Kenny, Dermot, Liotta, Lance, O'Kennedy, Richard, Kay, Elaine W., Kijanka, Gregor S. (2015). High CerS5 expression levels associate with reduced patient survival and transition from apoptotic to autophagy signalling pathways in colorectal cancer. The Journal of Pathology: Clinical Research, 1(1), 54-65. doi: 10.1002/cjp2.5
Ceramide synthase 5 is involved in the de novo synthesis of ceramide, a sphingolipid involved in cell death and proliferation. In this study, we investigated the role of ceramide synthase 5 in colorectal cancer by examining ceramide synthase 5 expression, clinico‐pathological parameters and association with survival/death signalling pathways in cancer. Immunohistochemical analysis of CerS5 was performed on 102 colorectal cancer samples using tissue microarrays constructed from formalin‐fixed and paraffin‐embedded tissues. We found strong membranous ceramide synthase 5 staining in 57 of 102 (56%) colorectal cancers. A multivariate Cox regression analysis of ceramide synthase 5 expression adjusted for disease stage, differentiation and lymphovascular invasion revealed reduced 5‐year overall survival (p = 0.001) and 5‐year recurrence‐free survival (p = 0.002), with hazard ratios of 4.712 and 4.322, respectively. The effect of ceramide synthase 5 expression on tumourigenic processes was further characterised by reverse phase protein array analysis. Reverse phase protein arrays were generated from laser capture microdissection‐enriched carcinoma cells from 19 fresh‐frozen colorectal cancer tissues. Measurements of phosphorylation and total levels of signalling proteins involved in apoptosis, autophagy and other cancer‐related pathways revealed two distinct signalling networks; weak membranous ceramide synthase 5 intensity was associated with a proteomic network dominated by signalling proteins linked to apoptosis, whereas strong ceramide synthase 5 intensity was associated with a proteomic sub‐network mostly composed of proteins linked to autophagy. In conclusion, high ceramide synthase 5 expression was found in colorectal cancer tissue and was associated with poorer patient outcomes. Our findings suggest that this may be mediated by a transition from apoptotic to autophagy signalling pathways in ceramide synthase 5 High expressing tumours, thus implicating ceramide synthase 5 in the progression of colorectal cancer.
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