ARTICLE ABSTRACTThe metabolic network of sphingolipids plays important roles in cancer biology. Prominent sphingolipids include ceramides and sphingosine-1-phosphate that regulate multiple aspects of growth, apoptosis, and cellular signaling. Although a significant number of enzymatic regulators of the sphingolipid pathway have been described in detail, many remained poorly characterized. Here we applied a patient-derived systemic approach to identify and molecularly define progestin and adipoQ receptor family member IV (PAQR4) as a Golgi-localized ceramidase. PAQR4 was approximately 5-fold upregulated in breast cancer compared with matched control tissue and its overexpression correlated with disease-specific survival rates in breast cancer. Induction of PAQR4 in breast tumors was found to be subtype-independent and correlated with increased ceramidase activity. These findings establish PAQR4 as Golgi-localized ceramidase required for cellular growth in breast cancer.
Induction of and cellular dependency on de novo sphingolipid synthesis via PAQR4 highlights a central vulnerability in breast cancer that may serve as a viable therapeutic target.