Lipid kinases have largely been neglected as targets in cancer, and an increasing number of reports suggest diacylglycerol kinase alpha (DGKα) may be one with promising therapeutic potential. DGKα is one of 10 DGK family members that convert diacylglycerol (DAG) to phosphatidic acid (PA), and both DAG and PA are critical lipid second messengers in the plasma membrane. A host of important oncogenic proteins and pathways affect cancer cells in part through DGKα, including the c-Met and VEGF receptors. Others partially mediate the effects of DGKα inhibition in cancer, such as mTOR and HIF-1α. DGKα inhibition can directly impair cancer cell viability, inhibits angiogenesis, and notably may also boost T-cell activation and enhance cancer immunotherapies. Although two structurally similar inhibitors of DGKα were established decades ago, they have seen minimal in vivo usage, and it is unlikely that either of these older DGKα inhibitors will have utility for cancer. An abandoned compound that also inhibits serotonin receptors may have more translational potential as a DGKα inhibitor, but more potent and specific DGKα inhibitors are sorely needed. Other DGK family members may also provide therapeutic targets in cancer, but require further investigation. Clin Cancer Res; 21(22); 1–5. ©2015 AACR.
- Received July 8, 2015.
- Revision received September 10, 2015.
- Accepted September 10, 2015.
- ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.