There is a need to develop more potent oncolytic adenoviruses that exhibit increased anti-tumor activity in patients. The HYPR-Ads are targeted oncolytic adenoviruses that specifically kill tumor cells which express active hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF). While therapeutically efficacious, the HYPR-Ads exhibited attenuated replication and oncolytic activity. To overcome these deficiencies and improve anti-tumor efficacy, we created new HIF-activated oncolytic Ads, HIF-Ad and HIF-Ad-IL4, which have two key changes: (i) a modified HIF-responsive promoter to regulate the E1A replication gene and (ii) insertion of the E3 gene region. The HIF-Ads demonstrated conditional activation of E1A expression under hypoxia. Importantly, the HIF-Ads exhibit hypoxia-dependent replication, oncolytic, and cellular release activities and potent anti-tumor efficacy, all of which are significantly greater than the HYPR-Ads. Notably, HIF-Ad-IL4 treatment led to regressions in tumor size by 70% and extensive tumor infiltration by leukocytes resulting in an anti-tumor efficacy that is up to 6-fold greater than the HYPR-Ads, HIF-Ad, and wild-type adenovirus treatment. These studies demonstrate that treatment with a HIF-activated oncolytic adenovirus leads to a measurable therapeutic response. The novel design of the HIF-Ads represents a significant improvement compared to first-generation oncolytic Ads and has great potential to increase the efficacy of this cancer therapy.
hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF); adenovirus; tumor; oncolytic; virotherapy; interleukin-4
Hypoxia is a microenvironmental factor that contributes to the invasion, progression and metastasis of tumor cells. Hypoxic tumor cells often show more resistance to conventional chemoradiotherapy than normoxic tumor cells, suggesting the requirement of novel antitumor therapies to efficiently eliminate the hypoxic tumor cells. We previously generated a tumor-specific replication-competent oncolytic adenovirus (OBP-301: Telomelysin), in which the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) promoter drives viral E1 expression. Since the promoter activity of the hTERT gene has been shown to be upregulated by hypoxia, we hypothesized that, under hypoxic conditions, the antitumor effect of OBP-301 with the hTERT promoter would be more efficient than that of the wild-type adenovirus 5 (Ad5). In this study, we investigated the antitumor effects of OBP-301 and Ad5 against human cancer cells under a normoxic (20% oxygen) or a hypoxic (1% oxygen) condition. Hypoxic condition induced nuclear accumulation of the hypoxia-inducible factor-1α and upregulation of hTERT promoter activity in human cancer cells. The cytopathic activity of OBP-301 was significantly higher than that of Ad5 under hypoxic condition. Consistent with their cytopathic activity, the replication of OBP-301 was significantly higher than that of Ad5 under the hypoxic condition. OBP-301-mediated E1A was expressed within hypoxic areas of human xenograft tumors in mice. These results suggest that the cytopathic activity of OBP-301 against hypoxic tumor cells is mediated through hypoxia-mediated activation of the hTERT promoter. Regulation of oncolytic adenoviruses by the hTERT promoter is a promising antitumor strategy, not only for induction of tumor-specific oncolysis, but also for efficient elimination of hypoxic tumor cells.
The first eukaryotic proline racemase (PRAC), isolated from the human Trypanosoma cruzi pathogen, is a validated therapeutic target against Chagas' disease. This essential enzyme is implicated in parasite life cycle and infectivity and its ability to trigger host B-cell nonspecific hypergammaglobulinemia contributes to parasite evasion and persistence. Using previously identified PRAC signatures and data mining we present the identification and characterization of a novel PRAC and five hydroxyproline epimerases (HyPRE) from pathogenic bacteria. Single-mutation of key HyPRE catalytic cysteine abrogates enzymatic activity supporting the presence of two reaction centers per homodimer. Furthermore, evidences are provided that Brucella abortus PrpA [for ‘proline racemase’ virulence factor A] and homologous proteins from two Brucella spp are bona fide HyPREs and not ‘one way’ directional PRACs as described elsewhere. Although the mechanisms of aminoacid racemization and epimerization are conserved between PRAC and HyPRE, our studies demonstrate that substrate accessibility and specificity partly rely on contraints imposed by aromatic or aliphatic residues distinctively belonging to the catalytic pockets. Analysis of PRAC and HyPRE sequences along with reaction center structural data disclose additional valuable elements for in silico discrimination of the enzymes. Furthermore, similarly to PRAC, the lymphocyte mitogenicity displayed by HyPREs is discussed in the context of bacterial metabolism and pathogenesis. Considering tissue specificity and tropism of infectious pathogens, it would not be surprising if upon infection PRAC and HyPRE play important roles in the regulation of the intracellular and extracellular amino acid pool profiting the microrganism with precursors and enzymatic pathways of the host.
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a major mediator of tumor physiology, and its activation is correlated with tumor progression, metastasis, and therapeutic resistance. HIF-1 is activated in a broad range of solid tumors due to intratumoral hypoxia or genetic alterations that enhance its expression or inhibit its degradation. As a result, decreasing HIF-1α expression represents an attractive strategy to sensitize hypoxic tumors to anticancer therapies. Here, we show that cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1) regulates the expression of HIF-1α, independent of its known regulators. Overexpression of CDK1 and/or cyclin B1 is sufficient to stabilize HIF-1α under normoxic conditions, whereas inhibition of CDK1 enhances the proteasomal degradation of HIF-1α, reducing its half-life and steady-state levels. In vitro kinase assays reveal that CDK1 directly phosphorylates HIF-1α at a previously unidentified regulatory site, Ser668. HIF-1α is stabilized under normoxic conditions during G2/M phase via CDK1-mediated phosphorylation of Ser668. A phospho-mimetic construct of HIF-1α at Ser668 (S668E) is significantly more stable under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions, resulting in enhanced transcription of HIF-1 target genes and increased tumor cell invasion and migration. Importantly, HIF-1α (S668E) displays increased tumor angiogenesis, proliferation, and tumor growth in vivo compared with wild-type HIF-1α. Thus, we have identified a novel link between CDK1 and HIF-1α that provides a potential molecular explanation for the elevated HIF-1 activity observed in primary and metastatic tumors, independent of hypoxia, and offers a molecular rationale for the clinical translation of CDK inhibitors for use in tumors with constitutively active HIF-1.
CDK1; HIF-1α; angiogenesis; cell cycle; hypoxia
Most solid tumors and their metastases experience periods of low oxygen or hypoxia, which is of major clinical significance as it promotes both tumor progression and resistance to therapy. Critical mediators of the hypoxic response are the hypoxia-inducible factors HIF-1α and HIF-2α. The HIFs are nonredundant and regulate both overlapping and unique downstream target genes. Here, we describe a novel mechanism for the switch between HIF-1α– and HIF-2α–dependent transcription during tumor hypoxia caused by the hypoxia associated factor (HAF). HAF is overexpressed in a variety of tumors and its levels are decreased during acute hypoxia, but increased following prolonged hypoxia. We have previously identified HAF as an E3 ubiquitin ligase that binds and ubiquitinates HIF-1α by an oxygen and pVHL-independent mechanism, thus targeting HIF-1α for proteasomal degradation. Here, we show that HAF also binds to HIF-2α, but at a different site than HIF-1α, and increases HIF-2α transactivation without causing its degradation. HAF, thus, switches the hypoxic response of the cancer cell from HIF-1α–dependent to HIF-2α–dependent transcription and activates genes involved in invasion such as MMP9, PAI-1, and the stem cell factor OCT-3/4. The switch to HIF-2α–dependent gene expression caused by HAF also promotes an enriched tumor stem cell population, resulting in highly aggressive tumors in vivo. Thus, HAF, by causing a switch from a HIF-1α– to HIF-2α–dependent response to hypoxia, provides a mechanism for more aggressive growth of tumors under prolonged hypoxia.
Solid tumors often exhibit simultaneously inflammatory and hypoxic microenvironments. The ‘signal transducer and activator of transcription-3’ (STAT3)-mediated inflammatory response and the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-mediated hypoxia response have been independently shown to promote tumorigenesis through the activation of HIF or STAT3 target genes and to be indicative of a poor prognosis in a variety of tumors. We report here for the first time that STAT3 is involved in the HIF1, but not HIF2-mediated hypoxic transcriptional response. We show that inhibiting STAT3 activity in MDA-MB-231 and RCC4 cells by a STAT3 inhibitor or STAT3 small interfering RNA significantly reduces the levels of HIF1, but not HIF2 target genes in spite of normal levels of hypoxia-inducible transcription factor 1α (HIF1α) and HIF2α protein. Mechanistically, STAT3 activates HIF1 target genes by binding to HIF1 target gene promoters, interacting with HIF1α protein and recruiting coactivators CREB binding protein (CBP) and p300, and RNA polymerase II (Pol II) to form enhanceosome complexes that contain HIF1α, STAT3, CBP, p300 and RNA Pol II on HIF1 target gene promoters. Functionally, the effect of STAT3 knockdown on proliferation, motility and clonogenic survival of tumor cells in vitro is phenocopied by HIF1α knockdown in hypoxic cells, whereas STAT3 knockdown in normoxic cells also reduces cell proliferation, motility and clonogenic survival. This indicates that STAT3 works with HIF1 to activate HIF1 target genes and to drive HIF1-depedent tumorigenesis under hypoxic conditions, but also has HIF-independent activity in normoxic and hypoxic cells. Identifying the role of STAT3 in the hypoxia response provides further data supporting the effectiveness of STAT3 inhibitors in solid tumor treatment owing to their usefulness in inhibiting both the STAT3 and HIF1 pro-tumorigenic signaling pathways in some cancer types.
cotranscriptional activation; HIF; hypoxia; STAT3; transcription
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.
ARD1; Angiogenesis; Anticancer therapy; Cell proliferation/survival; Glucose metabolism; HIF-1; Iron metabolism; PHD; SUMO; pVHL; p300/CBP; Transcription factor
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) has been frequently implicated in many cancers as well as viral pathogenesis. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is linked to several human malignancies. It can stabilize HIF-1α during latent infection and undergoes lytic replication in response to hypoxic stress. However, the mechanism by which KSHV controls its latent and lytic life cycle through the deregulation of HIF-1α is not fully understood. Our previous studies showed that the hypoxia-sensitive chromatin remodeler KAP1 was targeted by the KSHV-encoded latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) to repress expression of the major lytic replication and transcriptional activator (RTA). Here we further report that an RNA interference-based knockdown of KAP1 in KSHV-infected primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) cells disrupted viral episome stability and abrogated sub-G1/G1 arrest of the cell cycle while increasing the efficiency of KSHV lytic reactivation by hypoxia or using the chemical 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) or sodium butyrate (NaB). Moreover, KSHV genome-wide screening revealed that four hypoxia-responsive clusters have a high concurrence of both RBP-Jκ and HIF-1α binding sites (RBS+HRE) within the same gene promoter and are tightly associated with KAP1. Inhibition of KAP1 greatly enhanced the association of RBP-Jκ with the HIF-1α complex for driving RTA expression not only in normoxia but also in hypoxia. These results suggest that both KAP1 and the concurrence of RBS+HRE within the RTA promoter are essential for KSHV latency and hypoxia-induced lytic reactivation.
IMPORTANCE Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), a DNA tumor virus, is an etiological agent linked to several human malignancies, including Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and primary effusion lymphoma (PEL). HIF-1α, a key hypoxia-inducible factor, is frequently elevated in KSHV latently infected tumor cells and contributes to KSHV lytic replication in hypoxia. The molecular mechanisms of how KSHV controls the latent and lytic life cycle through deregulating HIF-1α remain unclear. In this study, we found that inhibition of hypoxia-sensitive chromatin remodeler KAP1 in KSHV-infected PEL cells leads to a loss of viral genome and increases its sensitivity to hypoxic stress, leading to KSHV lytic reactivation. Importantly, we also found that four hypoxia-responsive clusters within the KSHV genome contain a high concurrence of RBP-Jκ (a key cellular regulator involved in Notch signaling) and HIF-1α binding sites. These sites are also tightly associated with KAP1. This discovery implies that KAP1, RBP-Jκ, and HIF-1α play an essential role in KSHV pathogenesis through subtle cross talk which is dependent on the oxygen levels in the infected cells.
Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs), in particular HIF-1α, have been implicated in tumor biology. However, HIF target genes in the esophageal tumor microenvironment remain elusive. Gene expression profiling was performed upon hypoxia-exposed non-transformed immortalized human esophageal epithelial cells, EPC2-hTERT, and comparing with a gene signature of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). In addition to known HIF-1α target genes such as carbonic anhydrase 9, insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP3) and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, prostaglandin E synthase (PTGES) was identified as a novel target gene among the commonly upregulated genes in ESCC as well as the cells exposed to hypoxia. The PTGES induction was augmented upon stabilization of HIF-1α by hypoxia or cobalt chloride under normoxic conditions and suppressed by dominant-negative HIF-1α. Whereas PTGES messenger RNA (mRNA) was negatively regulated by normoxia, PTGES protein remained stable upon reoxygenation. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) biosynthesis was documented in transformed human esophageal cells by ectopic expression of PTGES as well as RNA interference directed against PTGES. Moreover, hypoxia stimulated PGE2 production in a HIF-1α-dependent manner. In ESCC, PTGES was overexpressed frequently at the mRNA and protein levels. Finally, COX-2 and PTGES were colocalized in primary tumors along with HIF-1α and IGFBP3. Activation of the COX-2–PTGES axis in primary tumors was further corroborated by concomitant upregulation of interleukin-1β and downregulation of hydroxylprostaglandin dehydrogenase. Thus, PTGES is a novel HIF-1α target gene, involved in prostaglandin E biosynthesis in the esophageal tumor hypoxic microenvironment, and this has implications in diverse tumors types, especially of squamous origin.
Hypoxia, which is a loss of oxygen in tissues, is a common condition in solid tumors due to the tumor outgrowing existing vasculature. Under hypoxic conditions, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α rapidly accumulates and transactivates hundreds of genes, such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). MMPs contribute to invasion and metastasis of tumor cells by degrading the surrounding basement membrane and extracellular matrix barriers, which enables the easy migration and spread of cancer cells. We examined whether hypoxia increases tumor cell invasion, and whether increased invasiveness was due to HIF-1α and MMP-9 expression.
Transwell invasion assays were performed to demonstrate whether hypoxia enhance tumor invasion by use of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. An immunofluorescence assay was used to demonstrate expression of HIF-1α and MMP-9 under hypoxic conditions. Luciferase and ChiP assays were performed to demonstrate that MMP-9 promoter activity was regulated by HIF-1α.
HIF-1α was stabilized under hypoxic conditions and stimulated MMP-9 expression, which affected the tumor invasiveness of breast cancer cells. HIF-1α transactivated the MMP-9 promoter by forming a transcriptional unit with p300, thus increasing expression of MMP-9 transcripts. Zymography indicated that MMP-9 had more gelatinase activity under hypoxic conditions than normoxic conditions. Furthermore, the small GTPase Ras was also activated in response to hypoxia, which then aids stabilization of HIF-1α, and in turn upregulates MMP-9 expression. We also demonstrate that MMP-9 is upregulated concurrently with HIF-1α in tumor tissues from patients with breast cancer.
These results suggest that HIF-1α promotes cell invasion through a MMP-9-dependent mechanism and that future antitumor agents could be used to target HIF-1α and MMP-9.
Angiogenesis; Breast neoplasms; Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha subunit; Matrix metalloproteinases
Hypoxia is a critical aspect of the glioma microenvironment and has been associated with poor prognosis and resistance to various therapies. However, the mechanisms responsible for hypoxic survival of glioma cells remain unclear. Recent studies strongly suggest that microRNAs act as critical mediators of the hypoxic response. We thus hypothesized their prominent role in hypoxia resistance in glioblastoma (GBM) and aimed to identify those.
With this study, we present the first detailed analysis of small RNA transcriptome of cell line U87MG, a grade IV glioma cell line, and its alteration under hypoxic condition. Based on deep sequencing and microarray data, we identify a set of hypoxia regulated microRNAs, with the miR-210-3p and its isomiRs showing highest induction in GBM cell lines U87MG and U251MG. We show miR-210-3p, miR-1275, miR-376c-3p, miR-23b-3p, miR-193a-3p and miR-145-5p to be up-regulated, while miR-92b-3p, miR-20a-5p, miR-10b-5p, miR-181a-2-3p and miR-185-5p are down-regulated by hypoxia. Interestingly, certain hypoxia-induced miRNAs are also known to be over-expressed in GBM tumors, suggesting that hypoxia may be one of the factors involved in establishing the miRNA signature of GBM. Transcription factor binding sites for Hypoxia inducible factor 1 A (HIF1A) were identified in the promoter region (5 kb upstream) of 30 hypoxia-induced miRNAs. HIF-1A over-expression and silencing studies show regulation of specific miRNAs, including miR-210-3p, to be HIF1A dependent. On the other hand, miR-210-3p leads to an increase in transcriptional activity of HIF and its target genes vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and carbonic anhydrase 9 (CA9). MiR-210-3p levels were found to be high in GBM patient samples and showed good correlation with the known hypoxia markers CA9 and VEGF. We show that miR-210-3p promotes hypoxic survival and chemoresistance in GBM cells and targets a negative regulator of hypoxic response, HIF3A. Additionally, a total of 139 novel miRNAs were discovered by the analysis of deep sequencing data and three of these were found to be differentially expressed under hypoxia.
Overall, our study reveals a novel miRNA signature of hypoxia in GBM and suggests miR-210-3p to be an oncogenic player and a novel potential intrinsic marker of hypoxia in glioblastoma.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-686) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Glioblastoma; MicroRNA; Deep sequencing; U87MG; U251MG; A172; miR-210
Hypoxia contributes to the resistance of tumors to conventional therapies. We hypothesized that their replication in hypoxic environments like brain or oral mucosa would make oncolytic herpes simplex viruses (HSVs) such as G207 (which has undergone clinical trials) replicate to a greater extent in hypoxic tumors like glioblastoma. Hypoxic cultured U87 cells yielded 4% more wild-type HSV (P = 0.04) and 3.6-fold more G207 (P = 0.001) after 48 hours of infection when compared with normoxic cells. Real-time RT-PCR confirmed a fivefold hypoxia-induced U87 upregulation of GADD34 mRNA, a factor complementing the γ34.5 gene deletion in G207. The viral yield under conditions of hypoxia, as against normoxia, in GADD34 siRNA-treated U87 cells was 65% of that in control siRNA-treated cells. Treating subcutaneous U87 tumors in athymic mice with erythropoietin lowered the tumoral hypoxic fraction from 57.5 to 24.5%. Tumoral hypoxia dropped to 2.5% during 4 hours/day of hyperbaric chamber treatment. Each tumor-oxygenating maneuver reduced the G207 yield fourfold (P = 0.0001). Oncolytic HSV G207 exhibited enhanced replication in hypoxic environments, partly on account of increased GADD34 expression in hypoxic cells. The unique tropism of oncolytic HSVs for hypoxic environments contrasts with the hypoxia-mediated impairment of standard (radiation, chemotherapy) and other experimental therapies, and enhances HSV's appeal and efficacy in treating tumors like glioblastoma.
Tumor hypoxia presents an obstacle to the effectiveness of most antitumor therapies, including treatment with oncolytic viruses. In particular, an oncolytic virus must be resistant to the inhibition of DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis that occurs during hypoxic stress. Here we show that vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), an oncolytic RNA virus, is capable of replication under hypoxic conditions. In cells undergoing hypoxic stress, VSV infection produced larger amounts of mRNA than under normoxic conditions. However, translation of these mRNAs was reduced at earlier times postinfection in hypoxia-adapted cells than in normoxic cells. At later times postinfection, VSV overcame a hypoxia-associated increase in α subunit of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF-2α) phosphorylation and initial suppression of viral protein synthesis in hypoxic cells to produce large amounts of viral protein. VSV infection caused the dephosphorylation of the translation initiation factor eIF-4E and inhibited host translation similarly under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. VSV produced progeny virus to similar levels in hypoxic and normoxic cells and showed the ability to expand from an initial infection of 1% of hypoxic cells to spread through an entire population. In all cases, virus infection induced classical cytopathic effects and apoptotic cell death. When VSV was used to treat tumors established in nude mice, we found VSV replication in hypoxic areas of these tumors. This occurred whether the virus was administered intratumorally or intravenously. These results show for the first time that VSV has an inherent capacity for infecting and killing hypoxic cancer cells. This ability could represent a critical advantage over existing therapies in treating established tumors.
We exploited the differential activation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-dependent gene expression in tumors versus normal tissue for the design of a targeted oncolytic Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1). A gene that is essential for viral replication, ICP4, was placed under the regulation of a HIF-responsive promoter and then introduced into the thymidine kinase locus (UL23) of HSV d120 which contains partial deletions in the two endogenous ICP4 genes. Recombinant HIF-HSV were isolated and their derivation from d120 was verified by expression of a truncated, nonfunctional form of ICP4 protein. Disruption of the UL23 locus was confirmed by loss of thymidine kinase expression and resistance to acyclovir. Unexpectedly, HIF-HSV expressed ICP4 and induced tumor cell lysis at similar levels under normoxia and hypoxia. The lack of HIF-dependent ICP4 transgene expression by HIF-HSV was due to two factors that have not previously been reported- reversion of the ICP4 gene region to its wild-type configuration and increased HIF-transcriptional activity under normoxia when cells were infected with any strain of HSV-1. The findings that an oncolytic HSV-1 is genetically unstable and can activate a tumor-related promoter in a non-specific manner have important implications for any proposed use of this virus in cancer therapy.
hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF); herpes simplex virus; HSV; oncolytic; ICP4
Increased levels of hypoxia and hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) in human sarcomas correlate with tumor progression and radiation resistance. Prolonged antiangiogenic therapy of tumors not only delays tumor growth but may also increase hypoxia and HIF-1α activity. In our recent clinical trial, treatment with the vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) antibody, bevacizumab, followed by a combination of bevacizumab and radiation led to near complete necrosis in nearly half of sarcomas. Gene Set Enrichment Analysis of microarrays from pretreatment biopsies found that the Gene Ontology category “Response to hypoxia” was upregulated in poor responders and that the hierarchical clustering based on 140 hypoxia-responsive genes reliably separated poor responders from good responders. The most commonly used chemotherapeutic drug for sarcomas, doxorubicin (Dox), was recently found to block HIF-1α binding to DNA at low metronomic doses. In four sarcoma cell lines, HIF-1α shRNA or Dox at low concentrations blocked HIF-1α induction of VEGF-A by 84–97% and carbonic anhydrase 9 by 83–93%. HT1080 sarcoma xenografts had increased hypoxia and/or HIF-1α activity with increasing tumor size and with anti-VEGF receptor antibody (DC101) treatment. Combining DC101 with HIF-1α shRNA or metronomic Dox had a synergistic effect in suppressing growth of HT1080 xenografts, at least in part via induction of tumor endothelial cell apoptosis. In conclusion, sarcomas respond to increased hypoxia by expressing HIF-1α target genes that may promote resistance to antiangiogenic and other therapies. HIF-1α inhibition blocks this evasive resistance and augments destruction of the tumor vasculature.
Despite their initial promise, anti-angiogenic therapies have been a disappointment in the clinic. One reason is that solid tumors often become resistant to these drugs. Tumors that respond poorly to this type of therapy have increased activation of the hypoxia-induced transcription factor HIF-1α which can enhance tumor survival and progression. In this study, the authors report that this evasive resistance can be overcome by adding low-dose doxorubicin or shRNA to inhibit HIF-1α activity. They are thus developing a clinical trial combining the angiogenesis inhibitor bevacizumab with metronomic doxorubicin in sarcoma patients.
sarcomas; hypoxia; HIF-1α; VEGF-A
Hypoxia has emerged as one of the most important drivers of tumor aggression, metastasis, and poor clinical outcome in many cancers. In prostate cancer (PCa), hypoxia has been strongly correlated to biochemical failure and local recurrence. However, current PCa treatment options do not address hypoxic cells highlighting a critical gap in existing therapies and the need for development of therapies that target hypoxic prostate tumor cells. Mammalian orthoreovirus (MRV) is an oncolytic virus that targets tumor cells over normal cells which has been shown to be safe and effective against many cancers in vitro, in animal models, and in human clinical trials. We found that MRV infects and replicates in hypoxic prostate tumor cells to levels comparable to normoxic cells leading to apoptosis and cell death. In addition, the regulatory subunit (HIF-1a) of the master transcriptional regulator of hypoxia, HIF-1, was significantly downregulated in infected cells. HIF-1a downregulation was found to occur via ubiquitin-dependent proteasome-mediated degradation and translational inhibition. Virus-mediated HIF-1a degradation required the HIF-1a PAS domain and expression of the receptor for activated kinase C (RACK1) protein. These data provide evidence that MRV may be a viable therapeutic option for targeting hypoxic cells and HIF-la in PCa.
HIF-1α; hypoxia; prostate cancer; Reovirus; viral oncolysis
Notch1 is a potent regulator known to play an oncogenic role in many malignancies including T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). Tumor hypoxia and increased hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) activity can act as major stimuli for tumor aggressiveness and progression. Although hypoxia-mediated activation of the Notch1 pathway plays an important role in tumor cell survival and invasiveness, the interaction between HIF-1α and Notch1 has not yet been identified in T-ALL. This study was designed to investigate whether hypoxia activates Notch1 signalling through HIF-1α stabilization and to determine the contribution of hypoxia and HIF-1α to proliferation, invasion and chemoresistance in T-ALL.
T-ALL cell lines (Jurkat, Sup-T1) transfected with HIF-1α or Notch1 small interference RNA (siRNA) were incubated in normoxic or hypoxic conditions. Their potential for proliferation and invasion was measured by WST-8 and transwell assays. Flow cytometry was used to detect apoptosis and assess cell cycle regulation. Expression and regulation of components of the HIF-1α and Notch1 pathways and of genes related to proliferation, invasion and apoptosis were assessed by quantitative real-time PCR or Western blot.
Hypoxia potentiated Notch1 signalling via stabilization and activation of the transcription factor HIF-1α. Hypoxia/HIF-1α-activated Notch1 signalling altered expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins and accelerated cell proliferation. Hypoxia-induced Notch1 activation increased the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP2) and MMP9, which increased invasiveness. Of greater clinical significance, knockdown of Notch1 prevented the protective effect of hypoxia/HIF-1α against dexamethasone-induced apoptosis. This sensitization correlated with losing the effect of hypoxia/HIF-1α on Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL expression.
Notch1 signalling is required for hypoxia/HIF-1α-induced proliferation, invasion and chemoresistance in T-ALL. Pharmacological inhibitors of HIF-1α or Notch1 signalling may be attractive interventions for T-ALL treatment.
T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Hypoxia; HIF-1α; Notch1; Proliferation; Invasion; Chemoresistance
The activation of the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) plays an essential role in tumor development, tumor progression, and resistance to chemo- and radiotherapy. In order to identify compounds targeting the HIF pathway, a small molecule library was screened using a luciferase-driven HIF-1 reporter cell line under hypoxia. The high-throughput screening led to the identification of a class of aminoalkyl-substituted compounds that inhibited hypoxia-induced HIF-1 target gene expression in human lung cancer cell lines at low nanomolar concentrations. Lead structure BAY 87-2243 was found to inhibit HIF-1α and HIF-2α protein accumulation under hypoxic conditions in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell line H460 but had no effect on HIF-1α protein levels induced by the hypoxia mimetics desferrioxamine or cobalt chloride. BAY 87-2243 had no effect on HIF target gene expression levels in RCC4 cells lacking Von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) activity nor did the compound affect the activity of HIF prolyl hydroxylase-2. Antitumor activity of BAY 87-2243, suppression of HIF-1α protein levels, and reduction of HIF-1 target gene expression in vivo were demonstrated in a H460 xenograft model. BAY 87-2243 did not inhibit cell proliferation under standard conditions. However under glucose depletion, a condition favoring mitochondrial ATP generation as energy source, BAY 87-2243 inhibited cell proliferation in the nanomolar range. Further experiments revealed that BAY 87-2243 inhibits mitochondrial complex I activity but has no effect on complex III activity. Interference with mitochondrial function to reduce hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activity in tumors might be an interesting therapeutic approach to overcome chemo- and radiotherapy-resistance of hypoxic tumors.
Antitumor activity; hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible factor-1; mitochondrial complex 1
Disulfiram is an aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitor that was used to treat alcoholism and showed anticancer activity, but its anticancer mechanism remains unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of disulfiram on the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-driven tumor adaptation to hypoxia in vitro.
Hep3B, Huh7 and HepG2 hepatoma cells were incubated under normoxic (20% O2) or hypoxic (1% O2) conditions for 16 h. The expression and activity of HIF-1α and HIF-2α proteins were evaluated using immunoblotting and luciferase reporter assay, respectively. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR was used to analyze HIF-mediated gene expression. Endothelial tubule formation assay was used to evaluate the anti-angiogenic effect.
Hypoxia caused marked expression of HIF-1α and HIF-1α in the 3 hepatoma cell lines, dramatically increased HIF activity and induced the expression of HIF downstream genes (EPO, CA9, VEGF-A and PDK1) in Hep3B cells. HIF-2α expression was positively correlated with the induction of hypoxic genes (CA9, VEGF-A and PDK1). Moreover, hypoxia markedly increased VEGF production and angiogenic potential of Hep3B cells. Disulfiram (0.3 to 2 μmol/L) inhibited hypoxia-induced gene expression and HIF activity in a dose-dependent manner. Disulfiram more effectively suppressed the viability of Hep3B cells under hypoxia, but it did not affect the cell cycle. Overexpression of HIF-2α in Hep3B cells reversed the inhibitory effects of disulfiram on hypoxia-induced gene expression and cell survival under hypoxia.
Disulfiram deregulates the HIF-mediated hypoxic signaling pathway in hepatoma cells, which may contribute to its anticancer effect. Thus, disulfiram could be used to treat solid tumors that grow in a HIF-dependent manner.
disulfiram; hepatoma; hypoxia; HIF-2; VEGF; angiogenesis
Solid tumors contain microenvironmental regions of hypoxia that present a barrier to traditional radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and this work describes a novel approach to circumvent hypoxia. We propose to overcome hypoxia by augmenting the effectiveness of drugs that are designed to specifically kill hypoxic tumor cells.
We have constructed RKO colorectal tumor cells that express a small RNA hairpin that specifically knocks down the hypoxia-inducible factor 1a (HIF1a) transcription factor. We have used these cells in vitro to determine the effect of HIF1 on cellular sensitivity to the hypoxic cytotoxin PR-104, and its role in cellular oxygen consumption in response to the pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase inhibitor dichloroacetate (DCA). We have further used these cells in vivo in xenografted tumors to determine the role of HIF1 in regulating tumor hypoxia in response to DCA using 18F-fluoroazomycin arabinoside positron emission tomography, and its role in regulating tumor sensitivity to the combination of DCA and PR-104.
HIF1 does not affect cellular sensitivity to PR-104 in vitro. DCA transiently increases cellular oxygen consumption in vitro and increases the extent of tumor hypoxia in vivo as measured with 18F-fluoroazomycin arabinoside positron emission tomography. Furthermore, we show that DCA-dependent alterations in hypoxia increase the antitumor activity of the next-generation hypoxic cytotoxin PR-104.
DCA interferes with the HIF-dependent “adaptive response,” which limits mitochondrial oxygen consumption. This approach transiently increases tumor hypoxia and represents an important method to improve antitumor efficacy of hypoxia-targeted agents, without increasing toxicity to oxygenated normal tissue.
Homeodomain-interacting protein kinase-2 (HIPK2), a transcriptional co-repressor with apoptotic function, can affect hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) transcriptional activity, through downmodulation of its HIF-1α subunit, in normoxic condition. Under hypoxia, a condition often found in solid tumors, HIF-1α is activated to induce target genes involved in chemoresistance, inhibition of apoptosis and tumor progression. Here, we investigated whether the HIPK2 overexpression could downregulate HIF-1α expression and activity in tumor cells treated with hypoxia-mimicking condition, and evaluated whether HIPK2-dependent downregulation of HIF-1α could sensitize chemoresistant tumor cells to adriamycin (ADR)-induced apoptosis.
Tumor cell lines carrying wild-type p53, siRNA p53, or mutant p53 were overexpressed with HIPK2 (full length or catalytic inactive mutant) and treated with cobalt chloride (CoCl2) to mimic hypoxia, in the presence or absence of ADR treatment. HIF-1α expression was measured by semiquantitative reverse-transcriptase (RT)-PCR and Western immunoblotting and HIF-1 activity was evaluated by luciferase assay using reporter plasmid containing hypoxia response elements (HREs) upstream of luciferase gene. HIF-1 target genes, including multidrug resistance 1 (MDR1) and the antiapoptotic Bcl2 were determined by RT-PCR. Cell survival and apoptosis were measured by colony assay and cleavage of the caspase-3 substrate PARP, respectively.
Overexpression of HIPK2 resulted in downmodulation of cobalt-stabilized HIF-1α protein and HIF-1α mRNA levels, with subsequent inhibition of HIF-1 transcriptional activity. MDR1 and Bcl-2 gene expression was downmodulated by HIPK2 overexpression in cobalt-treated cells. Inhibition of HIF-1 transcriptional activity was dependent on HIPK2 catalytic activity. HIPK2 overexpression did not induce per se apoptosis of cobalt-treated cells, on the contrary it sensitized cobalt-treated cells to ADR-induced apoptosis, regardless of their p53 status.
The ability of HIPK2 to restore the apoptosis-inducing potential of chemotherapeutic drug in hypoxia-mimicking condition and therefore to sensitize chemoresistant tumor cells suggests that HIPK2 may induce fundamental alterations in cell signaling pathways, involving or not p53 function. Thus potential use of HIPK2 is promising for cancer treatment by potentiating cytotoxic therapies, regardless of p53 cell status.
Hypoxia is a prevalent attribute of the solid tumor microenvironment that promotes the expression of genes through posttranslational modifications and stabilization of alpha subunits (HIF1α and HIF2α) of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs). Despite significant similarities, HIF1 (HIF1α/ARNT) and HIF2 (HIF2/ARNT) activate common as well as unique target genes and exhibit different functions in cancer biology. More surprisingly, accumulating data indicates that the HIF1- and/or HIF2-mediated hypoxia responses can be oncogenic as well as tumor suppressive. While the role of HIF in the hypoxia response is well established, recent data support the concept that HIF is necessary, but not sufficient for the hypoxic response. Other transcription factors that are activated by hypoxia are also required for the HIF-mediated hypoxia response. HIFs, other transcription factors, co-factors and RNA poll II recruited by HIF and other transcription factors form multifactoral enhanceosome complexes on the promoters of HIF target genes to activate hypoxia inducible genes. Importantly, HIF1 or HIF2 require distinct partners in activating HIF1 or HIF2 target genes. Because HIF enhanceosome formation is required for the gene activation and distinct functions of HIF1 and HIF2 in tumor biology, disruption of the HIF1 or HIF2 specific enhanceosome complex may prove to be a beneficial strategy in tumor treatment in which tumor growth is specifically dependent upon HIF1 or HIF2 activity.
hypoxia; HIF; enhanceosome; transcription factors; tumor microenvironment; transcription
Hypoxia is often encountered in solid tumors and known to contribute to aggressive tumor behavior, radiation- and chemotherapy resistance resulting in a poor prognosis for the cancer patient. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a role in the regulation of the tumor cell response to hypoxia, however, not much is known about the involvement of miRNAs in hypoxic signalling pathways in soft tissue sarcomas (STS).
A panel of twelve STS cell lines was exposed to atmospheric oxygen concentrations (normoxia) or 1% oxygen (hypoxia) for up to 48 h. Hypoxic conditions were verified and miRNA expression profiles were assessed by LNA™ oligonucleotide microarrays and RT-PCR after 24 h. The expression of target genes regulated by hypoxia responsive miRNAs is examined by end-point PCR and validated by luciferase reporter constructs.
Exposure of STS cell lines to hypoxic conditions gave rise to upregulation of Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF) 1α protein levels and increased mRNA expression of HIF1 target genes CA9 and VEGFA. Deregulation of miRNA expression after 24 h of hypoxia was observed. The most differentially expressed miRNAs (p < 0.001) in response to hypoxia were miR-185-3p, miR-485-5p, miR-216a-5p (upregulated) and miR-625-5p (downregulated). The well-known hypoxia responsive miR-210-3p could not be reliably detected by the microarray platform most likely for technical reasons, however, its upregulation upon hypoxic stress was apparent by qPCR. Target prediction algorithms identified 11 potential binding sites for miR-485-5p and a single putative miR-210-3p binding site in the 3’UTR of HIF3α, the least studied member of the HIF family. We showed that HIF3α transcripts, expressing a 3’UTR containing the miR-485-5p and miR-210-3p target sites, are expressed in all sarcoma cell lines and upregulated upon hypoxia. Additionally, luciferase reporter constructs containing the 3’UTR of HIF3α were used to demonstrate regulation of HIF3α by miR-210-3p and miR-485-5p.
Here we provide evidence for the miRNA mediated regulation of HIF3α by hypoxia responsive miRNAs in STS, which may help to tightly regulate and fine-tune the hypoxic response. This provides a better insight into the mechanisms underlying the hypoxic response in STS and may ultimately yield information on novel prognostic and predictive markers or targets for treatment.
miRNA; Hypoxia; HIF3α; Soft tissue sarcomas; miR-210-3p; miR-485-5p
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is the major hypoxia-regulated transcription factor that regulates cellular responses to low oxygen environments. HIF-1 is composed of two subunits: hypoxia-inducible HIF-1α and constitutively-expressed HIF-1β. During hypoxic conditions, HIF-1α heterodimerizes with HIF-1β and translocates to the nucleus where the HIF-1 complex binds to the hypoxia-response element (HRE) and activates expression of target genes implicated in cell growth and survival. HIF-1α protein expression is elevated in many solid tumors, including those of the cervix and brain, where cells that are the greatest distance from blood vessels, and therefore the most hypoxic, express the highest levels of HIF-1α. Therapeutic blockade of the HIF-1 signaling pathway in cancer cells therefore provides an attractive strategy for development of anticancer drugs. To identify small molecule inhibitors of the HIF-1 pathway, we have developed a cell-based reporter gene assay and screened a large compound library by using a quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) approach.
The assay is based upon a β-lactamase reporter under the control of a HRE. We have screened approximate 73,000 compounds by qHTS, with each compound tested over a range of seven to fifteen concentrations. After qHTS we have rapidly identified three novel structural series of HIF-1 pathway Inhibitors. Selected compounds in these series were also confirmed as inhibitors in a HRE β-lactamase reporter gene assay induced by low oxygen and in a VEGF secretion assay. Three of the four selected compounds tested showed significant inhibition of hypoxia-induced HIF-1α accumulation by western blot analysis.
The use of β-lactamase reporter gene assays, in combination with qHTS, enabled the rapid identification and prioritization of inhibitors specific to the hypoxia induced signaling pathway.
Hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is responsible for the majority of HIF-1-induced gene expression changes under hypoxia and for the “angiogenic switch” during tumor progression. HIF-1α is often upregulated in tumors leading to more aggressive tumor growth and chemoresistance, therefore representing an important target for antitumor intervention. We previously reported that zinc downregulated HIF-1α levels. Here, we evaluated the molecular mechanisms of zinc-induced HIF-1α downregulation and whether zinc affected HIF-1α also in vivo.
Here we report that zinc downregulated HIF-1α protein levels in human prostate cancer and glioblastoma cells under hypoxia, whether induced or constitutive. Investigations into the molecular mechanisms showed that zinc induced HIF-1α proteasomal degradation that was prevented by treatment with proteasomal inhibitor MG132. HIF-1α downregulation induced by zinc was ineffective in human RCC4 VHL-null renal carcinoma cell line; likewise, the HIF-1αP402/P564A mutant was resistant to zinc treatment. Similarly to HIF-1α, zinc downregulated also hypoxia-induced HIF-2α whereas the HIF-1β subunit remained unchanged. Zinc inhibited HIF-1α recruitment onto VEGF promoter and the zinc-induced suppression of HIF-1-dependent activation of VEGF correlated with reduction of glioblastoma and prostate cancer cell invasiveness in vitro. Finally, zinc administration downregulated HIF-1α levels in vivo, by bioluminescence imaging, and suppressed intratumoral VEGF expression.
These findings, by demonstrating that zinc induces HIF-1α proteasomal degradation, indicate that zinc could be useful as an inhibitor of HIF-1α in human tumors to repress important pathways involved in tumor progression, such as those induced by VEGF, MDR1, and Bcl2 target genes, and hopefully potentiate the anticancer therapies.