Lysophosphatidic acid and sphingosine-1-phosphate promote morphogenesis and block invasion of prostate cancer cells in three-dimensional organotypic models

Oncogene. 2012 Apr 19;31(16):2075-89. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.396. Epub 2011 Sep 26.


Normal prostate and some malignant prostate cancer (PrCa) cell lines undergo acinar differentiation and form spheroids in three-dimensional (3-D) organotypic culture. Acini formed by PC-3 and PC-3M, less pronounced also in other PrCa cell lines, spontaneously undergo an invasive switch, leading to the disintegration of epithelial structures and the basal lamina, and formation of invadopodia. This demonstrates the highly dynamic nature of epithelial plasticity, balancing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition against metastable acinar differentiation. This study assessed the role of lipid metabolites on epithelial maturation. PC-3 cells completely failed to form acinar structures in delipidated serum. Adding back lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) and sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) rescued acinar morphogenesis and repressed invasion effectively. Blocking LPA receptor 1 (LPAR1) functions by siRNA (small interference RNA) or the specific LPAR1 inhibitor Ki16425 promoted invasion, while silencing of other G-protein-coupled receptors responsive to LPA or S1P mainly caused growth arrest or had no effects. The G-proteins Gα(12/13) and Gα(i) were identified as key mediators of LPA signalling via stimulation of RhoA and Rho kinases ROCK1 and 2, activating Rac1, while inhibition of adenylate cyclase and accumulation of cAMP may be secondary. Interfering with these pathways specifically impeded epithelial polarization in transformed cells. In contrast, blocking the same pathways in non-transformed, normal cells promoted differentiation. We conclude that LPA and LPAR1 effectively promote epithelial maturation and block invasion of PrCa cells in 3-D culture. The analysis of clinical transcriptome data confirmed reduced expression of LPAR1 in a subset of PrCa's. Our study demonstrates a metastasis-suppressor function for LPAR1 and Gα(12/13) signalling, regulating cell motility and invasion versus epithelial maturation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement*
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lysophospholipids / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • RNA Interference
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sphingosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Sphingosine / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Lysophospholipids
  • sphingosine 1-phosphate
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Sphingosine
  • lysophosphatidic acid