Breast cancer MCF-7 cell-line-derived mammospheres were shown to be enriched in cells with a CD44+/CD24– surface profile, consistent with breast cancer stem cells (BCSC). These BCSC were previously reported to express key sphingolipid signaling effectors, including pro-oncogenic sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) and sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 3 (S1P3). In this study, we explored intracellular trafficking and localization of SphK1 and S1P3 in parental MCF-7 cells, and MCF-7 derived BCSC-enriched mammospheres treated with growth-or apoptosis-stimulating agents. Intracellular trafficking and localization were assessed using confocal microscopy and cell fractionation, while CD44+/CD24-marker status was confirmed by flow cytometry. Mammospheres expressed significantly higher levels of S1P3 compared to parental MCF-7 cells (p < 0.01). Growth-promoting agents (S1P and estrogen) induced SphK1 and S1P3 translocation from cytoplasm to nuclei, which may facilitate the involvement of SphK1 and S1P3 in gene regulation. In contrast, pro-apoptotic cytokine tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα)-treated MCF-7 cells demonstrated increased apoptosis and no nuclear localization of SphK1 and S1P3, suggesting that TNFα can inhibit nuclear translocation of SphK1 and S1P3. TNFα inhibited mammosphere formation and induced S1P3 internalization and degradation. No nuclear translocation of S1P3 was detected in TNFα-stimulated mammospheres. Notably, SphK1 and S1P3 expression and localization were highly heterogenous in mammospheres, suggesting the potential for a large variety of responses. The findings provide further insights into the understanding of sphingolipid signaling and intracellular trafficking in BCs. Our data indicates that the inhibition of SphK1 and S1P3 nuclear translocation represents a novel method to prevent BCSCs proliferation.
- Breast cancer stem cells
- MCF-7 cells
- Sphingosine kinase
- Sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor