The ceramide kinase inhibitor NVP-231 inhibits breast and lung cancer cell proliferation by inducing M phase arrest and subsequent cell death

Pastukhov, Oleksandr; Schalm, Stephanie; Zangemeister-Wittke, Uwe; Fabbro, Doriano; Bornancin, Frederic; Japtok, Lukasz; Kleuser, Burkhrad; Pfeilschifter, Josef; Huwiler, Andrea (2014). The ceramide kinase inhibitor NVP-231 inhibits breast and lung cancer cell proliferation by inducing M phase arrest and subsequent cell death. British journal of pharmacology, 171(24), pp. 5829-5844. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1111/bph.12886

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Background and Purpose Ceramide kinase (CerK) catalyzes the generation of ceramide-1-phosphate which may regulate various cellular functions, including inflammatory reactions and cell growth. Here, we studied the effect of a recently developed CerK inhibitor, NVP-231, on cancer cell proliferation and viability and investigated the role of cell cycle regulators implicated in these responses. Experimental Approach The breast and lung cancer cell lines MCF-7 and NCI-H358 were treated with increasing concentrations of NVP-231 and DNA synthesis, colony formation and cell death were determined. Flow cytometry was performed to analyse cell cycle distribution of cells and Western blot analysis was used to detect changes in cell cycle regulator expression and activation. Key Results In both cell lines, NVP-231 concentration-dependently reduced cell viability, DNA synthesis and colony formation. Moreover it induced apoptosis, as measured by increased DNA fragmentation and caspase-3 and caspase-9 cleavage. Cell cycle analysis revealed that NVP-231 decreased the number of cells in S phase and induced M phase arrest with an increased mitotic index, as determined by increased histone H3 phosphorylation. The effect on the cell cycle was even more pronounced when NVP-231 treatment was combined with staurosporine. Finally, overexpression of CerK protected, whereas down-regulation of CerK with siRNA sensitized, cells for staurosporine-induced apoptosis. Conclusions and Implications Our data demonstrate for the first time a crucial role for CerK in the M phase control in cancer cells and suggest its targeted inhibition, using drugs such as NVP-231, in combination with conventional pro-apoptotic chemotherapy.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Pharmacology

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Pastukhov, Oleksandr; Zangemeister-Wittke, Uwe and Huwiler, Andrea


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Anita Dähler

Date Deposited:

19 Jan 2015 14:53

Last Modified:

11 Nov 2015 10:08

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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