Regulation of sphingolipid metabolism plays a role in cellular homeostasis, and dysregulation of these pathways is involved in cancer progression. Previously, our reports identified ceramide as an anti-metastatic lipid. In the present study, we investigated the biochemical alterations in ceramide-centered metabolism of sphingolipids that were associated with metastatic potential. We established metastasis-prone sublines of SKOV3 ovarian cancer cells using an in vivo selection method. These cells showed decreases in ceramide levels and ceramide synthase (CerS) 2 expression. Moreover, CerS2 downregulation in ovarian cancer cells promoted metastasis in vivo and potentiated cell motility and invasiveness. Moreover, CerS2 knock-in suppressed the formation of lamellipodia required for cell motility in this cell line. In order to define specific roles of ceramide species in cell motility controlled by CerS2, the effect of exogenous long- and very long-chain ceramide species on the formation of lamellipodia was evaluated. Treatment with distinct ceramides increased cellular ceramides and had inhibitory effects on the formation of lamellipodia. Interestingly, blocking the recycling pathway of ceramides by a CerS inhibitor was ineffective in the suppression of exogenous C24:1-ceramide for the formation of lamellipodia. These results suggested that C24:1-ceramide, a CerS2 metabolite, predominantly suppresses the formation of lamellipodia without the requirement for deacylation/reacylation. Moreover, knockdown of neutral ceramidase suppressed the formation of lamellipodia concomitant with upregulation of C24:1-ceramide. Collectively, the CerS2-C24:1-ceramide axis, which may be countered by neutral ceramidase, is suggested to limit cell motility and metastatic potential. These findings may provide insights that lead to further development of ceramide-based therapy and biomarkers for metastatic ovarian cancer.
- cell motility
- sphingolipid metabolism