Background: Pancreatic cancer is a disease with poor prognosis, and development of new treatments is necessary. Sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), a bioactive lipid mediator produced by sphingosine kinases (SphK1 and SphK2), plays a critical role in progression of many types of cancer. However, little is known about the role of sphingosine kinases in pancreatic cancer. This study investigated the roles of sphingosine kinases in pancreatic cancer progression. Materials and methods: S1P levels in pancreatic cancer and noncancerous pancreatic tissue were measured in 10 patients. We generated PAN02 murine pancreatic cancer cell lines with a clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated system genes 9 (Cas9)-mediated deletion of SphK1 or SphK2 and assessed cell growth and migration. In an animal model, we assessed the survival of mice injected with PAN02 cells intraperitoneally. Results: S1P levels in the pancreatic cancer tissue were significantly higher than those in noncancerous tissue. SphK1 knockout (KO) cells showed greater proliferation and migration than wild type (WT) cells, and SphK2 KO cells showed less proliferation and migration than WT cells. Animal experiments showed that the survival of mice injected with SphK1 KO cells was significantly shorter than those injected with WT cells, and the survival of mice injected with SphK2 KO cells was longer than those injected with WT cells. Surprisingly, cytotoxic assay using gemcitabine showed that SphK1 KO cells survived less than WT cells, and SphK2 KO cells survived more than WT cells. Conclusions: S1P produced by SphK1 and SphK2 may have different functions in pancreatic cancer cells. Targeting both SphK1 and SphK2 may be a potential strategy for pancreatic cancer treatment.
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