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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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
Human solid tumors contain hypoxic regions that have considerably lower oxygen tension than normal tissues. They are refractory to radiotherapy and anticancer chemotherapy. Although more than half a century has passed since it was suggested that tumour hypoxia correlates with poor treatment outcomes and contributes to recurrence of cancer, no fundamental solution to this problem has been found. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1(HIF-1) is the main transcription factor that regulates the cellular response to hypoxia. It induces various genes, whose function is strongly associated with malignant alteration of the entire tumour. The cellular changes induced by HIF-1 are extremely important therapeutic targets of cancer therapy, particularly in therapy against refractory cancers. Therefore, targeting strategies to overcome the HIF-1-active microenvironment are important for cancer therapy. To Target HIF-1-active/ hypoxic tumor cells, we developed a fusion protein drug, PTD-ODD-Procaspase-3 that selectively induces cell death in HIF-1-active/hypoxic cells. The drug consists of the following three functional domains: the protein transduction domain (PTD), which efficiently delivers the fusion protein to hypoxic tumor cells, the ODD domain, which has a VHL-mediated protein destruction motif of human HIF-1α protein and confers hypoxia-dependent stabilization to the fusion proteins, and the human procaspase-3 proenzyme responsible for the cytocidal activity of the protein drug. In vivo imaging systems capable of monitoring HIF-1 activity in transplanted human cancer cells in mice are useful in evaluating the efficiency of these drugs and in study of HIF-1-active tumor cells.
hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1); tumour hypoxia; hypoxia responsive element (HRE); protein transduction domain (PTD); bioluminescence; in vivo imaging
Bone fracture initiates a series of cellular and molecular events including the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1. HIF-1 is known to facilitate recruitment and differentiation of multipotent human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSC). Therefore, we analyzed the impact of hypoxia and HIF-1 on the competitive differentiation potential of hMSCs towards adipogenic and osteogenic lineages.
Bone marrow derived primary hMSCs cultured for 2 weeks either under normoxic (app. 18% O2) or hypoxic (less than 2% O2) conditions were analyzed for the expression of MSC surface markers and for expression of the genes HIF1A, VEGFA, LDHA, PGK1, and GLUT1. Using conditioned medium, adipogenic or osteogenic differentiation as verified by Oil-Red-O or von-Kossa staining was induced in hMSCs under either normoxic or hypoxic conditions. The expression of HIF1A and VEGFA was measured by qPCR. A knockdown of HIF-1α by lentiviral transduction was performed, and the ability of the transduced hMSCs to differentiate into adipogenic and osteogenic lineages was analyzed. Hypoxia induced HIF-1α and HIF-1 target gene expression, but did not alter MSC phenotype or surface marker expression. Hypoxia (i) suppressed adipogenesis and associated HIF1A and PPARG gene expression in hMSCs and (ii) enhanced osteogenesis and associated HIF1A and RUNX2 gene expression. shRNA-mediated knockdown of HIF-1α enhanced adipogenesis under both normoxia and hypoxia, and suppressed hypoxia-induced osteogenesis.
Hypoxia promotes osteogenesis but suppresses adipogenesis of human MSCs in a competitive and HIF-1-dependent manner. We therefore conclude that the effects of hypoxia are crucial for effective bone healing, which may potentially lead to the development of novel therapeutic approaches.
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
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.
Hypoxia is a physiological or pathological condition of a deficiency of oxygen supply in the body as a whole or within a tissue. During hypoxia, tissues undergo a series of physiological responses to defend themselves against a low oxygen supply, including increased angiogenesis, erythropoiesis, and glucose uptake. The effects of hypoxia are mainly mediated by hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1), which is a heterodimeric transcription factor consisting of α and β subunits. HIF-1β is constantly expressed, whereas HIF-1α is degraded under normal oxygen conditions. Hypoxia stabilizes HIF-1α and the HIF complex, and HIF then translocates into the nucleus to initiate the expression of target genes. Hypoxia has been extensively studied for its role in promoting tumor progression, and emerging evidence also indicates that hypoxia may play important roles in physiological processes, including mammary development and lactation. The mammary gland exhibits an increasing metabolic rate from pregnancy to lactation to support mammary growth, lactogenesis, and lactation. This process requires increasing amounts of oxygen consumption and results in localized chronic hypoxia as confirmed by the binding of the hypoxia marker pimonidazole HCl in mouse mammary gland. We hypothesized that this hypoxic condition promotes mammary development and lactation, a hypothesis that is supported by the following several lines of evidence: i) Mice with an HIF-1α deletion selective for the mammary gland have impaired mammary differentiation and lipid secretion, resulting in lactation failure and striking changes in milk compositions; ii) We recently observed that hypoxia significantly induces HIF-1α-dependent glucose uptake and GLUT1 expression in mammary epithelial cells, which may be responsible for the dramatic increases in glucose uptake and GLUT1 expression in the mammary gland during the transition period from late pregnancy to early lactation; and iii) Hypoxia and HIF-1α increase the phosphorylation of signal transducers and activators of transcription 5a (STAT5a) in mammary epithelial cells, whereas STAT5 phosphorylation plays important roles in the regulation of milk protein gene expression and mammary development. Based on these observations, hypoxia effects emerge as a new frontier for studying the regulation of mammary development and lactation.
Glucose transporter; Hypoxia; Hypoxia inducible factor; Lactation; Mammary development; Metabolism
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.
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.
Survival rates from childhood cancer have improved dramatically in the last 40 years, such that over 80% of children are now cured. However in certain subgroups, including metastatic osteosarcoma, survival has remained stubbornly poor, despite dose intensive multi-agent chemotherapy regimens, and new therapeutic approaches are needed. Hypoxia is common in adult solid tumours and is associated with treatment resistance and poorer outcome. Hypoxia induces chemotherapy resistance in paediatric tumours including neuroblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma, in vitro, and this drug resistance is dependent on the oxygen-regulated transcription factor hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). In this study the effects of hypoxia on the response of the osteosarcoma cell lines 791T, HOS and U2OS to the clinically relevant cytotoxics cisplatin, doxorubicin and etoposide were evaluated. Significant hypoxia-induced resistance to all three agents was seen in all three cell lines and hypoxia significantly reduced drug-induced apoptosis. Hypoxia also attenuated drug-induced activation of p53 in the p53 wild-type U2OS osteosarcoma cells. Drug resistance was not induced by HIF-1α stabilisation in normoxia by cobalt chloride nor reversed by the suppression of HIF-1α in hypoxia by shRNAi, siRNA, dominant negative HIF or inhibition with the small molecule NSC-134754, strongly suggesting that hypoxia-induced drug resistance in osteosarcoma cells is independent of HIF-1α. Inhibition of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway using the inhibitor PI-103 did not reverse hypoxia-induced drug resistance, suggesting the hypoxic activation of Akt in osteosarcoma cells does not play a significant role in hypoxia-induced drug resistance. Targeting hypoxia is an exciting prospect to improve current anti-cancer therapy and combat drug resistance. Significant hypoxia-induced drug resistance in osteosarcoma cells highlights the potential importance of hypoxia as a target to reverse drug resistance in paediatric osteosarcoma. The novel finding of HIF-1α independent drug resistance suggests however other hypoxia related targets may be more relevant in paediatric osteosarcoma.
While the functions of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF1α)/aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT) and HIF2α/ARNT (HIF2) proteins in activating hypoxia-inducible genes are well established, the role of other transcription factors in the hypoxic transcriptional response is less clear. We report here for the first time that the basic helix-loop-helix-leucine-zip transcription factor upstream stimulatory factor 2 (USF2) is required for the hypoxic transcriptional response, specifically, for hypoxic activation of HIF2 target genes. We show that inhibiting USF2 activity greatly reduces hypoxic induction of HIF2 target genes in cell lines that have USF2 activity, while inducing USF2 activity in cells lacking USF2 activity restores hypoxic induction of HIF2 target genes. Mechanistically, USF2 activates HIF2 target genes by binding to HIF2 target gene promoters, interacting with HIF2α protein, and recruiting coactivators CBP and p300 to form enhanceosome complexes that contain HIF2α, USF2, CBP, p300, and RNA polymerase II on HIF2 target gene promoters. Functionally, the effect of USF2 knockdown on proliferation, motility, and clonogenic survival of HIF2-dependent tumor cells in vitro is phenocopied by HIF2α knockdown, indicating that USF2 works with HIF2 to activate HIF2 target genes and to drive HIF2-depedent tumorigenesis.
Tumor cycling hypoxia is now a well-recognized phenomenon in animal and human solid tumors. However, how tumor cycling hypoxia impacts chemotherapy is unclear. In the present study, we explored the impact and the mechanism of cycling hypoxia on tumor microenvironment-mediated chemoresistance. Hoechst 33342 staining and hypoxia-inducible factor–1 (HIF-1) activation labeling together with immunofluorescence imaging and fluorescence-activated cell sorting were used to isolate hypoxic tumor subpopulations from human glioblastoma xenografts. ABCB1 expression, P-glycoprotein function, and chemosensitivity in tumor cells derived from human glioblastoma xenografts or in vitro cycling hypoxic stress-treated glioblastoma cells were determined using Western blot analysis, drug accumulation and efflux assays, and MTT assay, respectively. ABCB1 expression and P-glycoprotein function were upregulated under cycling hypoxia in glioblastoma cells concomitant with decreased responses to doxorubicin and BCNU. However, ABCB1 knockdown inhibited these effects. Moreover, immunofluorescence imaging and flow cytometric analysis for ABCB1, HIF-1 activation, and Hoechst 3342 in glioblastoma revealed highly localized ABCB1 expression predominantly in potentially cycling hypoxic areas with HIF-1 activation and blood perfusion in the solid tumor microenvironment. The cycling hypoxic tumor cells derived from glioblastoma xenografts exhibited higher ABCB1 expression, P-glycoprotein function, and chemoresistance, compared with chronic hypoxic and normoxic cells. Tumor-bearing mice that received YC-1, an HIF-1α inhibitor, exhibited suppressed tumor microenvironment-induced ABCB1 induction and enhanced survival rate in BCNU chemotherapy. Cycling hypoxia plays a vital role in tumor microenvironment-mediated chemoresistance through the HIF-1–dependent induction of ABCB1. HIF-1 blockade before and concurrent with chemotherapy could suppress cycling hypoxia-induced chemoresistance.
ABCB1; cycling hypoxia; glioblastoma; hypoxia-inducible factor-1; multidrug resistance (MDR) 1
Hypoxia is linked to epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) and tumor progression in numerous carcinomas. Responses to hypoxia are thought to operate via hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs), but the importance of co-factors that regulate HIF signaling within tumors is not well understood. Here we elucidate a signaling pathway that physically and functionally couples tyrosine phosphorylation of β-catenin to hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF1α) signaling and HIF1α-mediated tumor EMT. Primary human lung adenocarcinomas accumulate pY654-β-catenin and HIF1α. All pY654-β-catenin, and only the tyrosine phosphorylated form, was found complexed with HIF1α and active Src, both within human tumors and in lung tumor cell lines exposed to hypoxia. Phosphorylation of Y654, generated by hypoxia mediated, reactive oxygen species (ROS)-dependent Src kinase activation, was required for β-catenin to interact with HIF1α and Src, to promote HIF1α transcriptional activity, and for hypoxia-induced EMT. Mice bearing hypoxic pancreatic islet adenomas, generated by treatment with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor antibodies, accumulate HIF1α/pY654-β-catenin complexes and develop an invasive phenotype. Concurrent administration of the ROS inhibitor N-acetylcysteine abrogated β-catenin/HIF pathway activity and restored adenoma architecture. Collectively, the findings implicate accumulation of pY654-β-catenin specifically complexed to HIF1α and Src kinase as critically involved in HIF1α signaling and tumor invasion. The findings also suggest that targeting ROS-dependent aspects of the pY654-β-catenin/ HIF1α pathway may attenuate untoward biological effects of anti-angiogenic agents and tumor hypoxia.
hypoxia; signaling; transcription; tumor; epithelial
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.
Background: Hypoxia inducible factor-α (HIF-α) is the main transcription factor activated in low oxygen conditions.
Results: Single cell imaging reveals pulses in nuclear levels of HIF-α.
Conclusion: The transient nature of the HIF-α nuclear accumulation is required to avoid cell death.
Significance: The duration of HIF-α response depends on cellular oxygenation, and can encode information and dictate cell fate.
Intracellular signaling involving hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) controls the adaptive responses to hypoxia. There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that intracellular signals encode temporal information. Thus, the dynamics of protein levels, as well as protein quantity and/or localization, impacts on cell fate. We hypothesized that such temporal encoding has a role in HIF signaling and cell fate decisions triggered by hypoxic conditions. Using live cell imaging in a controlled oxygen environment, we observed transient 3-h pulses of HIF-1α and -2α expression under continuous hypoxia. We postulated that the well described prolyl hydroxylase (PHD) oxygen sensors and HIF negative feedback regulators could be the origin of the pulsatile HIF dynamics. We used iterative mathematical modeling and experimental analysis to scrutinize which parameter of the PHD feedback could control HIF timing and we probed for the functional redundancy between the three main PHD proteins. We identified PHD2 as the main PHD responsible for HIF peak duration. We then demonstrated that this has important consequences, because the transient nature of the HIF pulse prevents cell death by avoiding transcription of p53-dependent pro-apoptotic genes. We have further shown the importance of considering HIF dynamics for coupling mathematical models by using a described HIF-p53 mathematical model. Our results indicate that the tight control of HIF transient dynamics has important functional consequences on the cross-talk with key signaling pathways controlling cell survival, which is likely to impact on HIF targeting strategies for hypoxia-associated diseases such as tumor progression and ischemia.
Cell Death; Hypoxia; Hypoxia-inducible Factor; Imaging; Mathematical Modeling; Negative Feedback Loop; p53; Prolyl Hydroxylase
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) accounts for about 38% of primary brain tumors in the United States. GBM is characterized by extensive angiogenesis induced by vascular growth factors and cytokines. The transcription of these growth factors and cytokines is regulated by the Hypoxia-Inducible-Factor-1(HIF-1), which is a key regulator mediating the cellular response to hypoxia. It is known that Factor Inhibiting HIF-1, or FIH-1, is also involved in the cellular response to hypoxia and has the capability to physically interact with HIF-1 and block its transcriptional activity under normoxic conditions. Delineation of the regulatory role of FIH-1 will help us to better understand the molecular mechanism responsible for tumor growth and progression and may lead to the design of new therapies targeting cellular pathways in response to hypoxia. Previous studies have shown that the chromosomal region of 10q24 containing the FIH-1 gene is often deleted in GBM, suggesting a role for the FIH-1 in GBM tumorigenesis and progression. In the current study, we found that FIH-1 is able to inhibit HIF-mediated transcription of GLUT1 and VEGF-A, even under hypoxic conditions in human glioblastoma cells. FIH-1 has been found to be more potent in inhibiting HIF function than PTEN. This observation points to the possibility that deletion of 10q23-24 and loss or decreased expression of FIH-1 gene may lead to a constitutive activation of HIF-1 activity, an alteration of HIF-1 targets such as GLUT-1 and VEGF-A, and may contribute to the survival of cancer cells in hypoxia and the development of hypervascularization observed in GBM. Therefore FIH-1 can be potential therapeutic target for the treatment of GBM patients with poor prognosis.