Ceramide synthase 5 is involved in the de novo synthesis of ceramide, a sphingolipid involved in cell death and proliferation. In this study, we investigated the role of ceramide synthase 5 in colorectal cancer by examining ceramide synthase 5 expression, clinico-pathological parameters and association with survival/death signalling pathways in cancer. Immunohistochemical analysis of CerS5 was performed on 102 colorectal cancer samples using tissue microarrays constructed from formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissues. We found strong membranous ceramide synthase 5 staining in 57 of 102 (56%) colorectal cancers. A multivariate Cox regression analysis of ceramide synthase 5 expression adjusted for disease stage, differentiation and lymphovascular invasion revealed reduced 5-year overall survival (p = 0.001) and 5-year recurrence-free survival (p = 0.002), with hazard ratios of 4.712 and 4.322, respectively. The effect of ceramide synthase 5 expression on tumourigenic processes was further characterised by reverse phase protein array analysis. Reverse phase protein arrays were generated from laser capture microdissection-enriched carcinoma cells from 19 fresh-frozen colorectal cancer tissues. Measurements of phosphorylation and total levels of signalling proteins involved in apoptosis, autophagy and other cancer-related pathways revealed two distinct signalling networks; weak membranous ceramide synthase 5 intensity was associated with a proteomic network dominated by signalling proteins linked to apoptosis, whereas strong ceramide synthase 5 intensity was associated with a proteomic sub-network mostly composed of proteins linked to autophagy. In conclusion, high ceramide synthase 5 expression was found in colorectal cancer tissue and was associated with poorer patient outcomes. Our findings suggest that this may be mediated by a transition from apoptotic to autophagy signalling pathways in ceramide synthase 5 High expressing tumours, thus implicating ceramide synthase 5 in the progression of colorectal cancer.
Dublin City University ->