Assessment of the extracellular and intracellular actions of sphingosine 1-phosphate by using the p42/p44 mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade as a model

D Tolan, A M Conway, S Rakhit, N Pyne, S Pyne

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We have investigated the extracellular and intracellular actions of sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) by using cultured airway smooth muscle cells. We have demonstrated that exogenous S1P elicited an activation of mitogen activated protein kinase (p42/p44 MAPK) that was abolished by pertussis toxin (0.1 mu g/mL, 24 h), which was used to inactivate G(i). The effect of exogenous S1P might therefore be attributed to an action at a putative Gi-coupled receptor. The regulation of the p42/p44 MAPK cascade by S1P was also shown to include a protein kinase C (PKC)-dependent intermediate step. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) stimulates intracellular S1P formation and was therefore used to evaluate the intracellular action of S1P. This has previously been investigated by others using the sphingosine kinase inhibitors D,L-threo-dihydrosphingosine and N,N-dimethylsphingosine. We have demonstrated here that both inhibitors block the PDGF-dependent activation of p42/p44 MAPK. However, both are also PKC inhibitors, which might account for their effect. because PDGF utilises PKC as an intermediate in the regulation of the p42/p44 MAPK cascade. Significantly, sphingosine, which is the substrate of sphingosine kinase and a PKC inhibitor, blocked the activation of p42/p44 MAPK by PDGF with an almost identical concentration dependence compared with D,L-threo-dihydrosphingosine and N,N-dimethylsphingosine. Therefore, the use of so-called sphingosine kinase inhibitors might lead to misleading interpretations because of their additional effect on PKC. Other approaches, such as oligodeoxynucleotide anti-sense against sphingosine kinase, are required to address the intracellular role of S1P. CELL SIGNAL 11;5:349-354, 1999.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-354
Number of pages6
JournalCellular Signalling
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1999


  • mitogen-activated protein kinase
  • sphingosine 1-phosphate
  • PDGF
  • smooth muscle
  • D,L-threo-dihydrosphingosine
  • signal transduction pathways
  • sphingomyelin-derived lipids
  • airway smooth muscle
  • phospholipase-D activation
  • regulated kinase-2
  • membrane receptor
  • high affinity
  • sphingosine-1-phosphate
  • sphingolipids

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