Ceramide kinase (CerK) phosphorylates ceramide to ceramide-1-phosphate (C1P), a bioactive sphingolipid. Since the mechanisms responsible for regulating the proliferation and migration/metastasis of cancer cells by the CerK/C1P pathway remain unclear, we conducted the present study. The knockdown of CerK in A549 lung and MCF-7 breast cancer cells (shCerK cells) increased the formation of lamellipodia, which are membrane protrusions coupled with cell migration. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts prepared from CerK-null mice also showed an enhanced formation of lamellipodia. The overexpression of CerK inhibited lamellipodium formation in A549 cells. The knockdown of CerK increased the number of cells having lamellipodia with Rac1 and the levels of active Rac1-GTP form, whereas the overexpression of CerK decreased them. CerK was located in lamellipodia after the epidermal growth factor treatment, indicating that CerK functioned there to inhibit Rac1. The migration of A549 cells was negatively regulated by CerK. An intravenous injection of A549-shCerK cells into nude mice resulted in markedly stronger metastatic responses in the lungs than an injection of control cells. The in vitro growth of A549 cells and in vivo expansion after the injection into mouse flanks were not affected by the CerK knockdown. These results suggest that the activation of CerK/C1P pathway has inhibitory roles on lamellipodium formation, migration, and metastasis of A549 lung cancer cells.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.