Molecular cancer

Saposin C promotes survival and prevents apoptosis via PI3K/Akt-dependent pathway in prostate cancer cells.

PMID 15548330


In addition to androgens, growth factors are also implicated in the development and neoplastic growth of the prostate gland. Prosaposin is a potent neurotrophic molecule. Homozygous inactivation of prosaposin in mice has led to the development of a number of abnormalities in the male reproductive system, including atrophy of the prostate gland and inactivation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and Akt in prostate epithelial cells. We have recently reported that prosaposin is expressed at a higher level by androgen-independent (AI) prostate cancer cells as compared to androgen-sensitive prostate cancer cells or normal prostate epithelial and stromal cells. In addition, we have demonstrated that a synthetic peptide (prosaptide TX14A), derived from the trophic sequence of the saposin C domain of prosaposin, stimulated cell proliferation, migration and invasion and activated the MAPK signaling pathway in prostate cancer cells. The biological significances of saposin C and prosaposin in prostate cancer are not known. Here, we report that saposin C, in a cell type-specific and dose-dependent manner, acts as a survival factor, activates the Akt-signaling pathway, down-modulates caspase-3, -7, and -9 expression and/or activity, and decreases the cleaved nuclear substrate of caspase-3 in prostate cancer cells under serum-starvation stress. In addition, prosaptide TX14A, saposin C, or prosaposin decreased the growth-inhibitory effect, caspase-3/7 activity, and apoptotic cell death induced by etoposide. We also discovered that saposin C activates the p42/44 MAP kinase pathway in a pertussis toxin-sensitive and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) /Akt-dependent manner in prostate cancer cells. Our data also show that the anti-apoptotic activity of saposin C is at least partially mediated via PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. We postulate that as a mitogenic, survival, and anti-apoptotic factor for prostate cancer cells, saposin C or prosaposin may contribute to prostate carcinogenesis at its early androgen-dependent or metastatic AI state.