Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (1373377)

Clipboard (0)

Related Articles

Journal of cellular biochemistry  2011;112(12):3882-3890.
Hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) stimulates expression of genes associated with angiogenesis and is associated with poor outcomes in ovarian and other cancers. In normoxia, HIF-1α is ubiquitinated and degraded through the E3 ubiquitin ligase, von Hippel-Lindau; however, little is known about the regulation of HIF-1α in hypoxic conditions. FBW7 is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that recognizes proteins phosphorylated by glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) and targets them for destruction. This study used an ovarian cancer cell model to test the hypothesis that HIF-1α phosphorylation by GSK3β in hypoxia leads to interaction with FBW7 and ubiquitin-dependent degradation. Expression of constitutively active GSK3β reduced HIF-1α protein and transcriptional activity and increased ubiquitination of HIF-1α in hypoxia, whereas pharmacologic inhibition of GSK3 or expression of siGSK3β promoted HIF-1α stabilization and activity. A mechanism through FBW7 was supported by the observed decrease in HIF-1α stabilization when FBW7 was overexpressed and both the elevation of HIF-1α levels and decrease in ubiquitinated HIF-1α when FBW7 was suppressed. Furthermore, HIF-1α associated with FBW7γ by co-immunoprecipitation, and the interaction was weakened by inhibition of GSK3 or mutation of GSK3β phosphorylation sites. The relevance of this pathway to angiogenic signaling was supported by the finding that endothelial cell tube maturation was increased by conditioned media from hypoxic SK-OV-3 cell lines expressing suppressed GSK3β or FBW7. These data introduce a new mechanism for regulation of HIF-1α during hypoxia that utilizes phosphorylation to target HIF-1α for ubiquitin-dependent degradation through FBW7 and may identify new targets in the regulation of angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3202039  PMID: 21964756
angiogenesis; AKT; ubiquitination; transcription factor; ovarian cancer; endothelial cells
Neuro-Oncology  2014;16(Suppl 2):ii27-ii28.
BACKGROUND: Von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL)is a genetic condition predisposing to the development of multiple specific tumors, mainly CNS and retinal hemangioblastomas and clear cell renal cancer (CCRC). Protein pVHL, codified by VHL gene, is an important component of the functional complex responsible for degrading hypoxia inducible factors (HIF1alpha and HIF2alpha). In hypoxic condition, or in absence of functional protein VHL, an accumulation of HIF results, and thus an activation of gene transcription related to angiogenesis, and cell proliferation and survival. A number of works supports a role of unregulated amplification of HIF activity and of proteins codified by HIF-inducible genes as oncogenic, promoting the development of some tumors as CCRC, in VHL patients. Their role is still unknown in the appearance of hemangioblastomas, as there is no information about the level of synthesis and transcription of HIF proteins in these tumors. The main objective of our study is to determine the levels of proteins HIF-1alpha and HIF-2alpha and the eventual associated VEGF variation. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Tissue from nine hemangioblastomas (cerebellar, spinal cord, brainstem, brain) resected from VHL patients was obtained immediately after each tumor resection, and cultured for growing. Six primary cultures were obtained, and analyzed by Flow Cytometry for cell population component evaluation and by Western-Blot in order to measure the levels of proteins HIF-1alpha, HIF-2alpha and of VEGF. RESULTS: Cellular characterization of the 6 primary cultures obtained from 9 hemangioblastomas has shown they are composed of stromal cells (more than 50% CD99 + cells), endothelial cells (15% CD34+ cells), and pericytes (30% NG2+ cells). In the study, 25-40% of stromal cells, 3-15% of endothelial cells, and 5-30% of pericytes had increased levels of HIF-1alpha and HIF-2alpha. Furthermore, Western-Blot assay showed a very high concentration of VEGF in hemangioblastoma cells, 2 to 4 times more than in cell lines characterized by over-expression of VEGF (lines derived from colon cancer and from retinal pigmentary epithelium). No correlation of HIF expression in culture and cell proliferation in the original tumor (Mib-1) has been found. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that proteins HIF-1alpha and HIF-2alpha are over-expressed in hemangioblastomas from VHL patients, suggesting a role of these proteins in the development and growth of these tumors. The results support the exploration of possible treatments directed to inactivate HIF1alpha and HIF-2alpha proteins as new targets, in order to control de proliferation of hemangioblastomas in these patients.
PMCID: PMC4185871
3.  Mutation of von Hippel–Lindau Tumour Suppressor and Human Cardiopulmonary Physiology 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(7):e290.
The von Hippel–Lindau tumour suppressor protein–hypoxia-inducible factor (VHL–HIF) pathway has attracted widespread medical interest as a transcriptional system controlling cellular responses to hypoxia, yet insights into its role in systemic human physiology remain limited. Chuvash polycythaemia has recently been defined as a new form of VHL-associated disease, distinct from the classical VHL-associated inherited cancer syndrome, in which germline homozygosity for a hypomorphic VHL allele causes a generalised abnormality in VHL–HIF signalling. Affected individuals thus provide a unique opportunity to explore the integrative physiology of this signalling pathway. This study investigated patients with Chuvash polycythaemia in order to analyse the role of the VHL–HIF pathway in systemic human cardiopulmonary physiology.
Methods and Findings
Twelve participants, three with Chuvash polycythaemia and nine controls, were studied at baseline and during hypoxia. Participants breathed through a mouthpiece, and pulmonary ventilation was measured while pulmonary vascular tone was assessed echocardiographically. Individuals with Chuvash polycythaemia were found to have striking abnormalities in respiratory and pulmonary vascular regulation. Basal ventilation and pulmonary vascular tone were elevated, and ventilatory, pulmonary vasoconstrictive, and heart rate responses to acute hypoxia were greatly increased.
The features observed in this small group of patients with Chuvash polycythaemia are highly characteristic of those associated with acclimatisation to the hypoxia of high altitude. More generally, the phenotype associated with Chuvash polycythaemia demonstrates that VHL plays a major role in the underlying calibration and homeostasis of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, most likely through its central role in the regulation of HIF.
Editors' Summary
Human cells (like those of other multicellular animals) use oxygen to provide the energy needed for daily life. Having not enough oxygen is a problem, but having too much is also dangerous because it damages proteins, DNA, and other large molecules that keep cells functioning. Consequently, the physiological systems—including the heart, lungs, and circulation—work together to balance oxygen supply and demand throughout the body. When oxygen is limiting (a condition called hypoxia), as happens at high altitudes, the cellular oxygen supply is maintained by increasing the heart rate, increasing the speed and depth of breathing (hyperventilation), constricting the blood vessels in the lung (pulmonary vasoconstriction), and increasing the number of oxygen-carrying cells in the blood. All these physiological changes increase the amount of oxygen that can be absorbed from the air, but how they are regulated is poorly understood. By contrast, researchers know quite a bit about how individual cells respond to hypoxia. When oxygen is limited, a protein called hypoxia-inducible factor (or HIF) activates a number of target proteins that help the cell get enough oxygen (for example, proteins that stimulate the growth of new blood vessels). When there is plenty of oxygen, another protein, called von Hippel–Lindau tumor suppressor (abbreviated VHL), rapidly destroys HIF. Recently, researchers discovered that a genetic condition called Chuvash polycythaemia, characterised by the overproduction of red blood cells, is caused by a specific defect in VHL that reduces its ability to destroy HIF. As a result, the expression of certain HIF target proteins is increased even when oxygen levels are normal.
Why Was This Study Done?
Chuvash polycythaemia is very rare, and so far little is known about how this genetic abnormality affects the physiology and long-term health of patients. By studying heart and lung function in patients with Chuvash polycythaemia, the researchers involved in this study hoped to discover more about the health consequences of the condition and to find out whether the VHL–HIF system controls systemic responses to hypoxia as well as cellular responses.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited and studied three patients with Chuvash polycythaemia, and, as controls for the comparison, several normal individuals and patients with an unrelated form of polycythaemia. They then measured how the lungs and hearts of these people reacted to mild hypoxia (similar to that experienced on commercial air flights) and moderate hypoxia (equiv alent to being on the top of an Alpine peak). They found that patients with Chuvash polycythaemia naturally breathe slightly quicker and deeper than normal individuals, and that their breathing rate increased dramatically and abnormally when oxygen was reduced. They also found that at normal oxygen levels the pulmonary blood vessels of these patients were more constricted than those of control individuals, and that they reacted more extremely to hypoxia. Similarly, the normal heart rate of the patients was slightly higher than that of the controls and increased much more in response to mild hypoxia.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The physiological differences measured by the researchers between Chuvash polycythaemia patients and control individuals are similar to the adaptations seen in people traveling to high altitudes where oxygen is limited. Thus, the VHL–HIF proteins may regulate the response to different oxygen concentrations both in individual cells and at the systemic level, although more physiological studies are needed to confirm this. Because the pulmonary blood vessels of patients with Chuvash polycythaemia are always abnormally constricted, and even more so when oxygen is limited, these people should avoid living at high altitude and should minimise air travel, suggest the researchers. The increased blood pressure in their lungs (pulmonary hypertension) could conceivably cause heart failure under such circumstances. Finally, this study has implications for the development of drugs directed at the VHL–HIF system. Agents are currently being designed to promote the development of new blood vessels after strokes or heart attacks by preventing the destruction of HIF, but based on the findings here such agents might have undesirable physiological affects. Conversely, HIF inhibitors (which act as anti-cancer reagents by increasing hypoxia in the centre of tumors and so inhibiting their growth) might be useful in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man page on Chuvash polycythaemia
• Information from the VHL Family Alliance on von Hippel–Lindau disease, including information on Chuvash polycythaemia
• Wikipedia page on polycythaemia and von Hippel–Lindau disease (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit)
Physiological study of patients with Chuvash polycythemia (caused by mutation of VHL) reveals characteristics similar to those associated with acclimatization to the hypoxia of high altitude.
PMCID: PMC1479389  PMID: 16768548
4.  Nonhypoxic regulation and role of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 in aromatase inhibitor resistant breast cancer 
Although aromatase inhibitors (AIs; for example, letrozole) are highly effective in treating estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer, a significant percentage of patients either do not respond to AIs or become resistant to them. Previous studies suggest that acquired resistance to AIs involves a switch from dependence on ER signaling to dependence on growth factor-mediated pathways, such as human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2). However, the role of HER2, and the identity of other relevant factors that may be used as biomarkers or therapeutic targets remain unknown. This study investigated the potential role of transcription factor hypoxia inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) in acquired AI resistance, and its regulation by HER2.
In vitro studies using AI (letrozole or exemestane)-resistant and AI-sensitive cells were conducted to investigate the regulation and role of HIF-1 in AI resistance. Western blot and RT-PCR analyses were conducted to compare protein and mRNA expression, respectively, of ERα, HER2, and HIF-1α (inducible HIF-1 subunit) in AI-resistant versus AI-sensitive cells. Similar expression analyses were also done, along with chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), to identify previously known HIF-1 target genes, such as breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP), that may also play a role in AI resistance. Letrozole-resistant cells were treated with inhibitors to HER2, kinase pathways, and ERα to elucidate the regulation of HIF-1 and BCRP. Lastly, cells were treated with inhibitors or inducers of HIF-1α to determine its importance.
Basal HIF-1α protein and BCRP mRNA and protein are higher in AI-resistant and HER2-transfected cells than in AI-sensitive, HER2- parental cells under nonhypoxic conditions. HIF-1α expression in AI-resistant cells is likely regulated by HER2 activated-phosphatidylinositide-3-kinase/Akt-protein kinase B/mammalian target of rapamycin (PI3K/Akt/mTOR) pathway, as its expression was inhibited by HER2 inhibitors and kinase pathway inhibitors. Inhibition or upregulation of HIF-1α affects breast cancer cell expression of BCRP; AI responsiveness; and expression of cancer stem cell characteristics, partially through BCRP.
One of the mechanisms of AI resistance may be through regulation of nonhypoxic HIF-1 target genes, such as BCRP, implicated in chemoresistance. Thus, HIF-1 should be explored further for its potential as a biomarker of and therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3978891  PMID: 24472707
5.  Nicotine Induces Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1α Expression in Human Lung Cancer Cells via Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor – Mediated Signaling Pathways 
Nicotine, the major component in cigarette smoke, can promote tumor growth and angiogenesis in various cancers, including lung cancer. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is overexpressed in human lung cancers, particularly in non – small cell lung cancers (NSCLC), and is closely associated with an advanced tumor grade, increased angiogenesis, and resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of nicotine on the expression of HIF-1α and its downstream target gene, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), in human lung cancer cells.
Experimental Design
Human NSCLC cell lines A549 and H157 were treated with nicotine and examined for expression of HIF-1α and VEGF using Western blot or ELISA. Loss of HIF-1α function using specific small interfering RNA was used to determine whether HIF-1α is directly involved in nicotine-induced tumor angiogenic activities, including VEGF expression, cancer cell migration, and invasion.
Nicotine increased HIF-1α and VEGF expression in NSCLC cells. Pharmacologically blocking nicotinic acetylcholine receptor – mediated signaling cascades, including the Ca2+/calmodulin, c-Src, protein kinase C, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2, and the mammalian target of rapamycin pathways, significantly attenuated nicotine-induced up-regulation of HIF-1α protein. Functionally, nicotine potently stimulated in vitro tumor angiogenesis by promoting tumor cell migration and invasion. These proangiogenic and invasive effects were partially abrogated by treatment with small interfering RNA specific for HIF-1α.
These findings identify novel mechanisms by which nicotine promotes tumor angiogenesis and metastasis and provide further evidences that HIF-1αis a potential anticancer target in nicotine-associated lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC4166418  PMID: 17699846
6.  Rapid non-genomic signalling by 17β-oestradiol through c-Src involves mTOR-dependent expression of HIF-1α in breast cancer cells 
British Journal of Cancer  2011;105(7):953-960.
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF1) has been implicated in regulating many of the genes responsible for angiogenesis, erythropoiesis, glucose metabolism and cancer pathogenesis. In this study, we demonstrate that exposure of human breast cancer lines to 17β-oestradiol (E2) rapidly induced the expression of HIF-1α, the regulated subunit of HIF1, in normoxic condition. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α is normally degraded in normoxia through ubiquitination-mediated proteolysis, whereas hypoxia modulates HIF-1α level by inhibiting ubiquitination-mediated degradation.
Oestradiol-induced accumulation of HIF-1α in breast cancer lines was detected by western blot analysis and its promoter activity was measured by HIF1 reporter assay. Molecular signalling of oestradiol-mediated HIF-1α expression was studied using specific pharmacological inhibitors and small interference RNA by co-immunoprecipitation and western blotting analysis.
Oestradiol has been observed to rapidly activate the nongenomic signalling cascade leading to HIF-1α protein synthesis. The results define a signalling pathway in breast cancer cells whereby oestradiol induces a rapid protein–protein interaction of ERα-c-Src-PI3K, resulting in the activation of PI3K/AKT pathway leading to mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) phosphorylation. The mTOR then stimulates translation by phosphorylating p70 S6 kinase and 4EB-P1, modulating HIF-1α protein synthesis. Oestradiol-stimulated HIF-1α activity was inhibited by either siRNA or pharmacological inhibitors to ERα, c-Src, PI3K and mTOR, providing a mechanism for the modulation of HIF-1α protein synthesis.
These results show oestradiol-induced expression of HIF-1α, downstream of the ERα/c-Src/PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway in human breast cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3185958  PMID: 21897387
oestradiol; HIF-1α; c-Src; mTOR; breast cancer
7.  Expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α and cell cycle proteins in invasive breast cancer are estrogen receptor related 
Breast Cancer Research  2004;6(4):R450-R459.
The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a key regulator of the cellular response to hypoxia. Previous studies showed that concentrations of its subunit HIF-1α, as a surrogate for HIF-1 activity, are increased during breast carcinogenesis and can independently predict prognosis in breast cancer. During carcinogenesis, the cell cycle is progressively deregulated, and proliferation rate is a strong prognostic factor in breast cancer. In this study we undertook a detailed evaluation of the relationships between HIF-1α and cell cycle-associated proteins.
In a representative estrogen receptor (ER) group of 150 breast cancers, the expression of HIF-1α, vascular endothelial growth factor, the ER, HER-2/neu, Ki-67, cyclin A, cyclin D1, p21, p53, and Bcl-2 was investigated by immunohistochemistry.
High concentrations (5% or more) of HIF-1α were associated with increased proliferation as shown by positive correlations with Ki-67 (P < 0.001) and the late S–G2-phase protein cyclin A (P < 0.001), but not with the G1-phase protein cyclin D1. High HIF-1α concentrations were also strongly associated with p53 positivity (P < 0.001) and loss of Bcl-2 expression (P = 0.013). No association was found between p21 and HIF-1α (P = 0.105) in the whole group of patients. However, the subgroup of ER-positive cancers was characterized by a strong positive association between HIF-1α and p21 (P = 0.023), and HIF-1α lacked any relation with proliferation.
HIF-1α overexpression is associated with increased proliferation, which might explain the adverse prognostic impact of increased concentrations of HIF-1α in invasive breast cancer. In ER-positive tumors, HIF-1α is associated with p21 but not against proliferation. This shows the importance of further functional analysis to unravel the role of HIF-1 in late cell cycle progression, and the link between HIF-1, p21, and ER.
PMCID: PMC468666  PMID: 15217513
Bcl-2; breast cancer; estrogen receptor; hypoxia-inducible factor-1α; p53
8.  HIF-1α: a Valid Therapeutic Target for Tumor Therapy 
Hypoxia plays a major role in the induction of angiogenesis during tumor development. One mechanism by which tumor cells respond to a reduced oxygen level is via the activation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). HIF-1 is an oxygen-dependent transcriptional activator that plays crucial roles in the angiogenesis of tumors and mammalian development. HIF-1 consists of a constitutively expressed HIF-1β subunit and the highly regulated HIF-1α subunits. The stability and activity of HIF-1α are regulated by various post-translational modifications, hydroxylation, acetylation, phosphorylation and sumoyaltion. Therefore, HIF-1α interacts with several protein factors including PHD, pVHL, ARD-1, SUMO and p300/CBP. Under normoxia, the HIF-1α subunit is rapidly degraded via the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene product (pVHL)-mediated ubiquitin/proteasome pathway. The association of pVHL and HIF-1α under normoxic conditions is triggered by the hydroxylation of prolines and the acetylation of lysine within a polypeptide segment known as the oxygen-dependent degradation (ODD) domain. On the contrary, under the hypoxia condition, the HIF-1α subunit becomes stable and interacts with coactivators such as p300/CBP to modulate its transcriptional activity. Under hypoxic conditions, HIF-1 eventually acts as a master regulator of numerous hypoxia-inducible genes. The target genes of HIF-1 are especially related to angiogenesis, cell proliferation and survival, and to glucose and iron metabolism. Moreover, it was reported that the activation of HIF-1α is closely associated with a variety of tumors and oncogenic pathways. Hence, the blocking of HIF-1α itself or the blocking of HIF-1α interacting proteins inhibits tumor growth. Based on these findings, HIF-1 can be a prime target for anticancer therapies. Therefore, this review summarizes the molecular mechanism of HIF-1α stability, the biological functions of HIF-1 and its potential applications for cancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC2843877  PMID: 20368827
ARD1; Angiogenesis; Anticancer therapy; Cell proliferation/survival; Glucose metabolism; HIF-1; Iron metabolism; PHD; SUMO; pVHL; p300/CBP; Transcription factor
9.  HEXIM1 down-regulates hypoxia-inducible factor-1α protein stability 
The Biochemical journal  2013;456(2):195-204.
We have previously reported on the inhibition of HIF-1α (hypoxia-inducible factor α)-regulated pathways by HEXIM1 [HMBA (hexamethylene-bis-acetamide)-inducible protein 1]. Disruption of HEXIM1 activity in a knock-in mouse model expressing a mutant HEXIM1 protein resulted in increased susceptibility to the development of mammary tumours, partly by up-regulation of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) expression, HIF-1α expression and aberrant vascularization. We now report on the mechanistic basis for HEXIM1 regulation of HIF-1α. We observed direct interaction between HIF-1α and HEXIM1, and HEXIM1 up-regulated hydroxylation of HIF-1α, resulting in the induction of the interaction of HIF-1α with pVHL (von Hippel–Lindau protein) and ubiquitination of HIF-1α. The up-regulation of hydroxylation involves HEXIM1-mediated induction of PHD3 (prolyl hydroxylase 3) expression and interaction of PHD3 with HIF-1α. Acetylation of HIF-1α has been proposed to result in increased interaction of HIF-1α with pVHL and induced pVHL-mediated ubiquitination, which leads to the proteasomal degradation of HIF-1α. HEXIM1 also attenuated the interaction of HIF-1α with HDAC1 (histone deacetylase 1), resulting in acetylation of HIF-1α. The consequence of HEXIM1 down-regulation of HIF-1α protein expression is attenuated expression of HIF-1α target genes in addition to VEGF and inhibition of HIF-1α-regulated cell invasion.
PMCID: PMC4430322  PMID: 24015760
breast cancer; hexamethylene-bis-acetamide-inducible protein-1 (HEXIM1); hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α); histone deacetylase (HDAC); prolyl hydroxylase (PHD)
10.  Endothelin-1 Inhibits Prolyl Hydroxylase Domain 2 to Activate Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1α in Melanoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11241.
The endothelin B receptor (ETBR) promotes tumorigenesis and melanoma progression through activation by endothelin (ET)-1, thus representing a promising therapeutic target. The stability of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α is essential for melanomagenesis and progression, and is controlled by site-specific hydroxylation carried out by HIF-prolyl hydroxylase domain (PHD) and subsequent proteosomal degradation.
Principal Findings
Here we found that in melanoma cells ET-1, ET-2, and ET-3 through ETBR, enhance the expression and activity of HIF-1α and HIF-2α that in turn regulate the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in response to ETs or hypoxia. Under normoxic conditions, ET-1 controls HIF-α stability by inhibiting its degradation, as determined by impaired degradation of a reporter gene containing the HIF-1α oxygen-dependent degradation domain encompassing the PHD-targeted prolines. In particular, ETs through ETBR markedly decrease PHD2 mRNA and protein levels and promoter activity. In addition, activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-dependent integrin linked kinase (ILK)-AKT-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is required for ETBR-mediated PHD2 inhibition, HIF-1α, HIF-2α, and VEGF expression. At functional level, PHD2 knockdown does not further increase ETs-induced in vitro tube formation of endothelial cells and melanoma cell invasiveness, demonstrating that these processes are regulated in a PHD2-dependent manner. In human primary and metastatic melanoma tissues as well as in cell lines, that express high levels of HIF-1α, ETBR expression is associated with low PHD2 levels. In melanoma xenografts, ETBR blockade by ETBR antagonist results in a concomitant reduction of tumor growth, angiogenesis, HIF-1α, and HIF-2α expression, and an increase in PHD2 levels.
In this study we identified the underlying mechanism by which ET-1, through the regulation of PHD2, controls HIF-1α stability and thereby regulates angiogenesis and melanoma cell invasion. These results further indicate that targeting ETBR may represent a potential therapeutic treatment of melanoma by impairing HIF-1α stability.
PMCID: PMC2888584  PMID: 20574527
11.  Differential effects of HIF-α isoforms on apoptosis in renal carcinoma cell lines 
Germline mutations in the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene predispose individuals to clear cell renal carcinomas, hemangioblastomas, and pheochromocytomas. The VHL gene product forms an ubiquitin E3 ligase complex, with regulation of hypoxia-inducible factor alpha (HIF-α) as its best known function. Lack of VHL expression has been shown previously to sensitize renal cells to apoptosis caused by certain cellular stresses. In this report, the role of HIF-α in apoptosis was investigated using two parent VHL-null renal carcinoma cell lines.
786-O and RCC10 renal carcinoma cell lines with manipulated levels of VHL, HIF-1α, or HIF-2α were subjected to cellular stresses and analyzed by western blotting for the abundance of apoptotic markers.
Cell lines expressing mutant VHL proteins that were unable to regulate HIF-α had increased levels of apoptosis when irradiated with ultraviolet (UV) light. The influences of the two major isoforms of HIF-α, HIF-1α and HIF-2α, on apoptosis, were compared by creating cell lines in which levels of each isoform were modulated via short hairpin RNA interference. In UV-irradiated cells, HIF-2α expression was determined to promote apoptosis, whereas HIF-1α was anti-apoptotic. In cells deprived of either glucose or serum, HIF-1α expression was generally anti-apoptotic, while HIF-2α expression was observed to either promote apoptosis or have less of an influence on apoptosis, depending on the cell line used.
HIF-1α and HIF-2α exerted distinct effects in each of the conditions tested, with expression of HIF-1α largely blocking apoptosis and HIF-2α generally promoting apoptosis. These results reinforce that HIF-1α and HIF-2α have distinct biological roles and that their relative expression levels may influence some therapeutic interventions that are dependent on apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC4342814  PMID: 25729330
Apoptosis; Glucose starvation; HIF-alpha; Serum starvation; UV-irradiation; VHL
12.  TNFα induces HIF-1α expression through activation of IKKβ 
The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) is regulated by oxygen availability as well as various inflammatory mediators, including tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα). Early work suggested that the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways are involved in TNFα-mediated HIF-1α accumulation and activation under normoxic conditions. Here, we provide evidence showing that IκBkinase β (IKKβ) is required for HIF-1α regulation by TNFα. We found that TNFα enhances HIF-1α protein expression in various breast cancer cell lines under either normoxic or hypoxia-mimicking conditions, but has little effect on the HIF-1α mRNA level. Increased HIF-1α expression was found in IKKβ stable clones and transient transfectants, and depletion of IKKβ consistently reduced the amount of HIF-1α protein. Treatment of cells with the IKKβ inhibitor Bay 11-7082 reduced the TNFα-induced HIF-1α expression, suggesting that IKKβ is required in this signaling pathway. Decreased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a direct target of HIF-1α, was shown in IKKβ-knockout mouse embryonic fibroblast cells. We further demonstrated a positive correlation between IKKβ and VEGF expression in primary human breast cancer specimens. Our findings indicate that TNFα-induced HIF-1α accumulation is IKKβ dependent, and may enable further understanding of the HIF-1α regulation by inflammatory signals.
PMCID: PMC2762003  PMID: 19766100
Tumor necrosis factor α; Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α; IκBkinase β; Vascular endothelial growth factor; Breast cancer
13.  HIF-1α/GPER signaling mediates the expression of VEGF induced by hypoxia in breast cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) 
Carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) play a pivotal role in cancer progression by contributing to invasion, metastasis and angiogenesis. Solid tumors possess a unique microenvironment characterized by local hypoxia, which induces gene expression changes and biological features leading to poor outcomes. Hypoxia Inducible Factor 1 (HIF-1) is the main transcription factor that mediates the cell response to hypoxia through different mechanisms that include the regulation of genes strongly associated with cancer aggressiveness. Among the HIF-1 target genes, the G-protein estrogen receptor (GPER) exerts a stimulatory role in diverse types of cancer cells and in CAFs.
We evaluated the regulation and function of the key angiogenic mediator vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in CAFs exposed to hypoxia. Gene expression studies, Western blotting analysis and immunofluorescence experiments were performed in CAFs and breast cancer cells in the presence of cobalt chloride (CoCl2) or cultured under low oxygen tension (2% O2), in order to analyze the involvement of the HIF-1α/GPER signaling in the biological responses to hypoxia. We also explored the role of the HIF-1α/GPER transduction pathway in functional assays like tube formation in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and cell migration in CAFs.
We first determined that hypoxia induces the expression of HIF-1α and GPER in CAFs, then we ascertained that the HIF-1α/GPER signaling is involved in the regulation of VEGF expression in breast cancer cells and in CAFs exposed to hypoxia. We also assessed by ChIP assay that HIF-1α and GPER are both recruited to the VEGF promoter sequence and required for VEGF promoter stimulation upon hypoxic condition. As a biological counterpart of these findings, conditioned medium from hypoxic CAFs promoted tube formation in HUVECs in a HIF-1α/GPER dependent manner. The functional cooperation between HIF-1α and GPER in CAFs was also evidenced in the hypoxia-induced cell migration, which involved a further target of the HIF-1α/GPER signaling like connective tissue growth factor (CTGF).
The present results provide novel insight into the role elicited by the HIF-1α/GPER transduction pathway in CAFs towards the hypoxia-dependent tumor angiogenesis. Our findings further extend the molecular mechanisms through which the tumor microenvironment may contribute to cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC3978922  PMID: 23947803
14.  Prolyl hydroxylase 2 dependent and Von-Hippel-Lindau independent degradation of Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 and 2 alpha by selenium in clear cell renal cell carcinoma leads to tumor growth inhibition 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:293.
Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) accounts for more than 80% of the cases of renal cell carcinoma. In ccRCC deactivation of Von-Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene contributes to the constitutive expression of hypoxia inducible factors 1 and 2 alpha (HIF-α), transcriptional regulators of several genes involved in tumor angiogenesis, glycolysis and drug resistance. We have demonstrated inhibition of HIF-1α by Se-Methylselenocysteine (MSC) via stabilization of prolyl hydroxylases 2 and 3 (PHDs) and a significant therapeutic synergy when combined with chemotherapy. This study was initiated to investigate the expression of PHDs, HIF-α, and VEGF-A in selected solid cancers, the mechanism of HIF-α inhibition by MSC, and to document antitumor activity of MSC against human ccRCC xenografts.
Tissue microarrays of primary human cancer specimens (ccRCC, head & neck and colon) were utilized to determine the incidence of PHD2/3, HIF-α, and VEGF-A by immunohistochemical methods. To investigate the mechanism(s) of HIF-α inhibition by MSC, VHL mutated ccRCC cells RC2 (HIF-1α positive), 786–0 (HIF-2α positive) and VHL wild type head & neck cancer cells FaDu (HIF-1α) were utilized. PHD2 and VHL gene specific siRNA knockdown and inhibitors of PHD2 and proteasome were used to determine their role in the degradation of HIF-1α by MSC.
We have demonstrated that ccRCC cells express low incidence of PHD2 (32%), undetectable PHD3, high incidence of HIF-α (92%), and low incidence of VEGF-A compared to head & neck and colon cancers. This laboratory was the first to identify MSC as a highly effective inhibitor of constitutively expressed HIF-α in ccRCC tumors. MSC did not inhibit HIF-1α protein synthesis, but facilitated its degradation. The use of gene knockdown and specific inhibitors confirmed that the inhibition of HIF-1α was PHD2 and proteasome dependent and VHL independent. The effects of MSC treatment on HIF-α were associated with significant antitumor activity against ccRCC xenograft.
Our results show the role of PHD2/3 in stable expression of HIF-α in human ccRCC. Furthermore, HIF-1α degradation by MSC is achieved through PHD2 dependent and VHL independent pathway which is unique for HIF-α regulation. These data provide the basis for combining MSC with currently used agents for ccRCC.
PMCID: PMC3466155  PMID: 22804960
Prolyl hydroxylases; Hypoxia-inducible factor; Clear cell renal cell carcinoma; Selenium
15.  Targeting HIF2α Translation with Tempol in VHL-Deficient Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma 
Oncotarget  2012;3(11):1472-1482.
The tumor suppressor gene, Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL), is frequently mutated in the most common form of kidney cancer, clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CCRCC). In hypoxic conditions, or when there is a VHL mutation, the hypoxia inducible factors, HIF1α and HIF2α, are stabilized and transcribe a panel of genes associated with cancer such as vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR), platelet derived growth factor (PDGF), and glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1). Recent studies in clear cell kidney cancer have suggested that HIF2α, but not HIF1α, is the critical oncoprotein in the VHL pathway. Therefore, targeting HIF2α could provide a potential therapeutic approach for patients with advanced CCRCC. Since iron regulatory protein 1 (IRP1) is known to inhibit the translation of HIF2α, we investigated whether Tempol, a stable nitroxide that activates IRP1 towards IRE-binding, might have a therapeutic effect on a panel of human CCRCC cells expressing both HIF1α and HIF2α. We first evaluated the protein expression of HIF1α and HIF2α in 15 different clear cell renal carcinoma cell lines established from patient tumors in our laboratory. Tempol decreased the expression of HIF2α, and its downstream targets in all the cell lines of the panel. This effect was attributed to a dramatic increase of IRE-binding activity of IRP1. Several cell lines were found to have an increased IRP1 basal activity at 20% O2 compared to 5% O2, which may lower HIF2α expression in some of the cell lines in a VHL-independent manner. Taken together our data identify Tempol as an agent with potential therapeutic activity targeting expression of HIF2α in VHL-deficient clear cell kidney cancer and illustrate the importance of studying biochemical processes at relevant physiological O2 levels.
PMCID: PMC3717806  PMID: 23178531
HIF; Tempol; RCC; VHL; IRP1; iron metabolism
16.  Retinoblastoma Binding Protein 2 (RBP2) Promotes HIF-1α–VEGF-Induced Angiogenesis of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer via the Akt Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e106032.
Pathological angiogenesis plays an essential role in tumor aggressiveness and leads to unfavorable prognosis. The aim of this study is to detect the potential role of Retinoblastoma binding protein 2 (RBP2) in the tumor angiogenesis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Immunohistochemical staining was used to detect the expression of RBP2, hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and CD34. Two pairs of siRNA sequences and pcDNA3-HA-RBP2 were used to down-regulate and up-regulate RBP2 expression in H1975 and SK-MES-1 cells. An endothelial cell tube formation assay, VEGF enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, real-time PCR and western blotting were performed to detect the potential mechanisms mediated by RBP2 in tumor angiogenesis.
Of the 102 stage I NSCLC specimens analyzed, high RBP2 protein expression is closely associated with tumor size (P = 0.030), high HIF-1α expression (P = 0.028), high VEGF expression (P = 0.048), increased tumor angiogenesis (P = 0.033) and poor prognosis (P = 0.037); high MVD was associated with high HIF-1α expression (P = 0.034), high VEGF expression (P = 0.001) and poor prognosis (P = 0.040). Multivariate analysis indicated that RBP2 had an independent influence on the survival of patients with stage I NSCLC (P = 0.044). By modulating the expression of RBP2, our findings suggested that RBP2 protein depletion decreased HUVECs tube formation by down-regulating VEGF in a conditioned medium. RBP2 stimulated the up-regulation of VEGF, which was dependent on HIF-1α, and activated the HIF-1α via phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway. Moreover, VEGF increased the activation of Akt regulated by RBP2.
The RBP2 protein may stimulate HIF-1α expression via the activation of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway under normoxia and then stimulate VEGF expression. These findings indicate that RBP2 may play a critical role in tumor angiogenesis and serve as an attractive therapeutic target against tumor aggressiveness for early-stage NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC4146555  PMID: 25162518
17.  Metabolic reprogramming and two-compartment tumor metabolism 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(17):3280-3289.
Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) 1α and 2α are transcription factors responsible for the cellular response to hypoxia. The functional roles of HIF1α and HIF2α in cancer are distinct and vary among different tumor types. The aim of this study was to evaluate the compartment-specific role(s) of HIF1α and HIF2α in breast cancer. To this end, immortalized human fibroblasts and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells carrying constitutively active HIF1α or HIF2α mutants were analyzed with respect to their metabolic function(s) and ability to promote tumor growth in an in vivo setting. We observed that activation of HIF1α, but not HIF2α, in stromal cells promotes a shift toward aerobic glycolysis, with increased L-lactate production and a loss of mitochondrial activity. In a xenograft model, HIF1α-activated fibroblasts promoted the tumor growth of co-injected MDA-MB-231 cells without an increase in angiogenesis. Conversely, HIF2α-activated stromal cells did not favor tumor growth and behaved as the empty vector controls. Similarly, activation of HIF1α, but not HIF2α, in MDA-MB-231 cells promoted a shift toward aerobic glycolysis, with increased glucose uptake and L-lactate production. In contrast, HIF2α activation in cancer cells increased the expression of EGFR, Ras and cyclin D1, which are known markers of tumor growth and cell cycle progression. In a xenograft model, HIF1α activation in MDA-MB-231 cells acted as a tumor suppressor, resulting in an almost 2-fold reduction in tumor mass and volume. Interestingly, HIF2α activation in MDA-MB-231 cells induced a significant ~2-fold-increase in tumor mass and volume. Analysis of mitochondrial activity in these tumor xenografts using COX (cytochrome C oxidase) staining demonstrated elevated mitochondrial oxidative metabolism (OXPHOS) in HIF2α-tumors. We conclude that the role(s) of HIF1α and HIF2α in tumorigenesis are compartment-specific. HIF1α acts as a tumor promoter in stromal cells but as a tumor suppressor in cancer cells. Conversely, HIF2α is a tumor promoter in cancer cells. Mechanistically, HIF1α-driven aerobic glycolysis in stromal cells supports cancer cell growth via the paracrine production of nutrients (such as L-lactate) that can “feed” cancer cells. However, HIF1α-driven aerobic glycolysis in cancer cells inhibits tumor growth. Finally, HIF2α activation in cancer cells induces the expression of known pro-oncogenic molecules and promotes the mitochondrial activity of cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3466527  PMID: 22894905
caveolin-1; hypoxia-inducible factor; HIF-1alpha; HIF-2alpha; metabolic coupling; tumor stroma; cancer-associated fibroblasts; aerobic glycolysis; mitochondrial metabolism; OXPHOS
18.  The role of aberrant VHL/HIF pathway elements in predicting clinical outcome to pazopanib therapy in patients with metastatic clear-cell renal cell carcinoma 
Inactivation of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene in clear-cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC) leads to increased levels of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) and overexpression of HIF target genes, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and others. VEGF-targeted agents are standard in advanced clear-cell RCC but biomarkers of activity are lacking.
Patients and Methods
We analyzed tumor tissue samples from metastatic clear-cell RCC patients who received pazopanib as part of clinical trial VEG102616. We evaluated several components of the VHL/HIF pathway: VHL gene inactivation (mutation and/or methylation), HIF1α and HIF2α immunohistochemistry staining, and HIF1α transcriptional signature. We evaluated the association of these biomarkers with best overall response rate and progression-free survival to pazopanib, a standard first-line VEGF-targeted agent.
The VEG102616 trial enrolled 225 patients, from whom 78 samples were available for tumor DNA extraction. Of these, 70 patients had VHL mutation or methylation. VHL gene status did not correlate with overall response rate or progression-free survival. Similarly, HIF1α (65 samples) and HIF2α (66 samples) protein levels (high vs. low) did not correlate with overall response rate or progression-free survival to pazopanib. The HIF1α transcriptional signature (46 samples) was enriched in tumors expressing high HIF1α levels. However, the HIF1α gene expression signature was not associated with clinical outcome to pazopanib.
In patients with advanced clear-cell RCC, several potential biomarkers along the VHL/HIF1α/HIF2α axis were not found to be predictive for pazopanib activity. Additional efforts must continue to identify biomarkers associated with clinical outcome to VEGF-targeted agents in metastatic RCC.
PMCID: PMC4522695  PMID: 23881929
renal cell carcinoma; VEGF; HIF; VHL; biomarkers; pazopanib
19.  HIF-1α stimulates aromatase expression driven by prostaglandin E2 in breast adipose stroma 
The majority of postmenopausal breast cancers are estrogen-dependent. Tumor-derived factors, such as prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), stimulate CREB1 binding to cAMP response elements (CREs) on aromatase promoter II (PII), leading to the increased expression of aromatase and biosynthesis of estrogens within human breast adipose stromal cells (ASCs). Hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), a key mediator of cellular adaptation to low oxygen levels, is emerging as a novel prognostic marker in breast cancer. We have identified the presence of a consensus HIF-1α binding motif overlapping with the proximal CRE of aromatase PII. However, the regulation of aromatase expression by HIF-1α in breast cancer has not been characterized. This study aimed to characterize the role of HIF-1α in the activation of aromatase PII.
HIF-1α expression and localization were examined in human breast ASCs using quantitative PCR (QPCR), Western blotting, immunofluorescence and high content screening. QPCR and tritiated water-release assays were performed to assess the effect of HIF-1α on aromatase expression and activity. Reporter assays and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) were performed to assess the effect of HIF-1α on PII activity and binding. Treatments included PGE2 or DMOG ((dimethyloxalglycine), HIF-1α stabilizer). Double immunohistochemistry for HIF-1α and aromatase was performed on tissues obtained from breast cancer and cancer-free patients.
Results indicate that PGE2 increases HIF-1α transcript and protein expression, nuclear localization and binding to aromatase PII in human breast ASCs. Results also demonstrate that HIF-1α significantly increases PII activity, and aromatase transcript expression and activity, in the presence of DMOG and/or PGE2, and that HIF-1α and CREB1 act co-operatively on PII. There is a significant increase in HIF-1α positive ASCs in breast cancer patients compared to cancer-free women, and a positive association between HIF-1α and aromatase expression.
This study is the first to identify HIF-1α as a modulator of PII-driven aromatase expression in human breast tumor-associated stroma and provides a novel mechanism for estrogen regulation in obesity-related, post-menopausal breast cancer. Together with our on-going studies on the role of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in the regulation of breast aromatase, this work provides another link between disregulated metabolism and breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3672802  PMID: 23566437
20.  Identification of the angiogenic gene signature induced by EGF and hypoxia in colorectal cancer 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:518.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is characterised by hypoxia, which activates gene transcription through hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF), as well as by expression of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and EGF receptors, targeting of which has been demonstrated to provide therapeutic benefit in CRC. Although EGF has been demonstrated to induce expression of angiogenic mediators, potential interactions in CRC between EGF-mediated signalling and the hypoxia/HIF pathway remain uncharacterised.
PCR-based profiling was applied to identify angiogenic genes in Caco-2 CRC cells regulated by hypoxia, the hypoxia mimetic dimethyloxallylglycine (DMOG) and/or EGF. Western blotting was used to determine the role of HIF-1alpha, HIF-2alpha and MAPK cell signalling in mediating the angiogenic responses.
We identified a total of 9 angiogenic genes, including angiopoietin-like (ANGPTL) 4, ephrin (EFNA) 3, transforming growth factor (TGF) β1 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), to be upregulated in a HIF dependent manner in Caco-2 CRC cells in response to both hypoxia and the hypoxia mimetic dimethyloxallylglycine (DMOG). Stimulation with EGF resulted in EGFR tyrosine autophosphorylation, activation of p42/p44 MAP kinases and stabilisation of HIF-1α and HIF-2α proteins. However, expression of 84 angiogenic genes remained unchanged in response to EGF alone. Crucially, addition of DMOG in combination with EGF significantly increased expression of a further 11 genes (in addition to the 9 genes upregulated in response to either DMOG alone or hypoxia alone). These additional genes included chemokines (CCL-11/eotaxin-1 and interleukin-8), collagen type IV α3 chain, integrin β3 chain, TGFα and VEGF receptor KDR.
These findings suggest that although EGFR phosphorylation activates the MAP kinase signalling and promotes HIF stabilisation in CRC, this alone is not sufficient to induce angiogenic gene expression. In contrast, HIF activation downstream of hypoxia/DMOG drives expression of genes such as ANGPTL4, EFNA3, TGFβ1 and VEGF. Finally, HIF activation synergises with EGF-mediated signalling to additionally induce a unique sub-group of candidate angiogenic genes. Our data highlight the complex interrelationship between tumour hypoxia, EGF and angiogenesis in the pathogenesis of CRC.
PMCID: PMC4228238  PMID: 24180698
Colorectal cancer; Angiogenesis; Hypoxia; EGF
21.  Latent Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Infection of Endothelial Cells Activates Hypoxia-Induced Factors▿  
Journal of Virology  2006;80(21):10802-10812.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV or HHV-8) is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma, a highly vascularized, endothelial-derived tumor. A direct role for KSHV-mediated induction of angiogenesis has been proposed based upon the nature of the neoplasia and various KSHV gene overexpression and infection model systems. We have found that KSHV infection of endothelial cells induces mRNA of hypoxia-induced factor 1α (HIF1α) and HIF2α, two homologous alpha subunits of the heterodimeric transcription factor HIF. HIF is a master regulator of both developmental and pathological angiogenesis, composed of an oxygen-sensitive alpha subunit and a constitutively expressed beta subunit. HIF is classically activated posttranscriptionally with hypoxia, leading to increased protein stability of HIF1α and/or HIF2α. However, we demonstrate that both alpha subunits are up-regulated at the transcript level by KSHV infection. The transcriptional activation of HIF leads to a functional increase in HIF activity under normoxic conditions, as demonstrated by both luciferase reporter assay and the increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (VEGFR1), an HIF-responsive gene. KSHV infection synergizes with hypoxia mimics and induces higher expression levels of HIF1α and HIF2α protein, and HIF1α is increased in a significant proportion of the latently infected endothelial cells. Src family kinases are required for the activation of HIF and the downstream gene VEGFR1 by KSHV. We also show that KS lesions, in vivo, express elevated levels of HIF1α and HIF2α proteins. Thus, KSHV stimulates the HIF pathway via transcriptional up-regulation of both HIF alphas, and this activation may play a role in KS formation, localization, and progression.
PMCID: PMC1641760  PMID: 16956952
22.  COMMD1 Promotes pVHL and O2-Independent Proteolysis of HIF-1α via HSP90/70 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7332.
The Copper Metabolism MURR1 Domain containing 1 protein COMMD1 has been associated with copper homeostasis, NF-κB signaling, and sodium transport. Recently, we identified COMMD1 as a novel protein in HIF-1 signaling. Mouse embryos deficient for Commd1 have increased expression of hypoxia/HIF-regulated genes i.e. VEGF, PGK and Bnip3. Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are master regulators of oxygen homeostasis, which control angiogenesis, erythropoiesis, glycolysis and cell survival/proliferation under normal and pathologic conditions. Although HIF activity is mainly controlled by ubiquitination and protein degradation by the von Hippel Lindau (pVHL) tumor suppressor gene other mechanisms have recently been identified that regulate HIF signaling independently of pVHL.
Principal Findings
Here we characterized the mechanism by which COMMD1 regulates HIF-1α protein degradation. We show that COMMD1 competes with the chaperone heat shock protein HSP90β for binding to the NH2-terminal DNA-binding and heterodimerization domain of HIF-1α to regulate HIF-1α stability together with HSP70. Inhibition of HSP90 activity with 17-Allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG) increased COMMD1-mediated HIF-1α degradation independent of ubiquitin and pVHL.
These data reveal a novel role for COMMD1 in conjunction with HSP90β/HSP70 in the ubiquitin and O2-independent regulation of HIF-1α.
PMCID: PMC2750754  PMID: 19802386
23.  Physical and Functional Interactions between Runx2 and HIF-1α Induce Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Gene Expression 
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2011;112(12):3582-3593.
Angiogenesis and bone formation are intimately related processes. Hypoxia during early bone development stabilizes hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and increases angiogenic signals including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Furthermore, stabilization of HIF-1α by genetic or chemical means stimulates bone formation. On the other hand, deficiency of Runx2, a key osteogenic transcription factor, prevents vascular invasion of bone and VEGF expression. This study explores the possibility that HIF-1α and Runx2 interact to activate angiogenic signals. Runx2 over-expression in mesenchymal cells increased VEGF mRNA and protein under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. In normoxia, Runx2 also dramatically increased HIF-1α protein. In all cases, the Runx2 response was inhibited by siRNA-mediated suppression of HIF-1α and completely blocked by the HIF-1α inhibitor, echinomycin. Similarly, treatment of preosteoblast cells with Runx2 siRNA reduced VEGF mRNA in normoxia or hypoxia. However, Runx2 is not essential for the HIF-1α response since VEGF is induced by hypoxia even in Runx2-null cells. Endogenous Runx2 and HIF-1α were colocalized to the nuclei of MC3T3-E1 preosteoblast cells. Moreover, HIF-1α and Runx2 physically interact using sites within the Runx2 RUNT domain. Chromatin immunoprecipitation also provided evidence for colocalization of Runx2 and HIF-1α on the VEGF promoter. In addition, Runx2 stimulated HIF-1α-dependent activation of an HRE-luciferase reporter gene without requiring a separate Runx2-binding enhancer. These studies indicate that Runx2 functions together with HIF-1α to stimulate angiogenic gene expression in bone cells and may in part explain the known requirement for Runx2 in bone vascularization.
PMCID: PMC3202060  PMID: 21793044
Osteoblast; vascularization; angiogenesis; transcriptional factors; hypoxia
24.  Expression of HIF-1α and Markers of Angiogenesis Are Not Significantly Different in Triple Negative Breast Cancer Compared to Other Breast Cancer Molecular Subtypes: Implications for Future Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0129356.
Triple negative breast cancer lacks estrogen, progesterone and epidermal growth factor receptors rendering it refractory to available targetedtherapies. TNBC is associated with central fibrosis and necrosis, both indicators of tumor hypoxia. Hypoxia inducible factor 1α is up-regulated under hypoxia and its expression is associated with induction of angiogenesis resulting in proliferation, aggressive tumor phenotype and metastasis. In this study we evaluate the potential use of HIF-1α as aTNBC-specific marker.
62 TNBC, 64 HER2+, and 64 hormone-receptors positive breast cancer cases were evaluated for central fibrosis and necrosis, HIF-1α, HIF-1β, VEGFR3, CD31 expression and microvessel density. RNA extraction from paraffin-embedded samples, followed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) evaluation of HIF-1α and VEGF transcripts was performed on 54 cases (18 from each subtype).
HIF-1α protein was expressed in 35.5% TNBC, 45.3% HER2+and 25.0% ER+/PR+ (p = 0.055; χ2 test). PCRanalysis of subgroup of breast cancers, 84.2% expressed HIF-1α protein and its transcripts, while only 66.7% expressed VEGF transcripts simultaneously with the HIF-1α protein and its transcripts. Central fibrosis and necrosis was highest in TNBC (p = 0.015; χ2 test), while MVD was comparable among all groups (p = 0.928; χ2 test). VEGFR3 was highest in TNBC expressing HIF-1α. HIF-1β protein was expressed in 32.0% of HIF-1α(+), and in (44.3%) of HIF-1α(-) breast cancer cases (p = 0.033; χ2 test). Moreover, HIF-1α expression in cases with central fibrosis and necrosis was highest in the HER2+ followed by the TNBC (p = 0.156; χ2 test).
A proportion of TNBC express HIF-1α but not in a significantly different manner from other breast cancer subtypes. The potential of anti-HIF-1α targeted therapy is therefore not a candidate for exclusive use in TNBC, but should be considered in all breast cancers, especially in the setting of clinically aggressive or refractory disease.
PMCID: PMC4457831  PMID: 26046764
25.  Ginsenoside-Rg1 mediates a hypoxia-independent upregulation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α to promote angiogenesis 
Angiogenesis  2011;14(4):515-522.
Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1) is the key transcription regulator for multiple angiogenic factors and is an appealing target. Ginsenoside-Rg1, a nontoxic saponin isolated from the rhizome of Panax ginseng, exhibits potent proangiogenic activity and has the potential to be developed as a new angiotherapeutic agent. However, the mechanisms by which Rg1 promotes angiogenesis are not fully understood. Here, we show that Rg1 is an effective stimulator of HIF-1α under normal cellular oxygen conditions in human umbilical vein endothelial cells. HIF-1α steady-state mRNA was not affected by Rg1. Rather, HIF-1α protein synthesis was stimulated by Rg1. This effect was associated with constitutive activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and its effector p70 S6 kinase (p70S6K), but not extracellular-signal regulated kinase 1/2. We further revealed that HIF-1α induction triggered the expression of target genes, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The use of small molecule inhibitors LY294002 or rapamycin to inhibit PI3K/Akt and p70S6K activities, respectively, resulted in diminished HIF-1α activation and subsequent VEGF expression. RNA interference-mediated knockdown of HIF-1α suppressed Rg1-induced VEGF synthesis and angiogenic tube formation, confirming that the effect was HIF-1α specific. Similarly, the angiogenic phenotype could be reversed by inhibition of PI3K/Akt and p70S6K. These results define a hypoxia-independent activation of HIF-1α, uncovering a novel mechanism for Rg1 that could play a major role in angiogenesis and vascular remodeling.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10456-011-9235-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3214261  PMID: 21964931
Ginsenoside; PI3K/Akt; Angiogenesis; HIF-1α; Signaling

Results 1-25 (1373377)