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1.  Natural Product-Based Inhibitors of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1) 
Current drug targets  2006;7(3):355-369.
The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) regulates the expression of more than 70 genes involved in cellular adaptation and survival under hypoxic stress. Activation of HIF-1 is associated with numerous physiological and pathological processes that include tumorigenesis, vascular remodeling, inflammation, and hypoxia/ischemia-related tissue damage. Clinical studies suggested that HIF-1 activation correlates directly with advanced disease stages and treatment resistance among cancer patients. Preclinical studies support the inhibition of HIF-1 as a major molecular target for antitumor drug discovery. Considerable effort is underway, in government laboratories, industry and academia, to identify therapeutically useful small molecule HIF-1 inhibitors. Natural products (low molecular weight organic compounds produced by plants, microbes, and animals) continue to play a major role in modern antitumor drug discovery. Most of the compounds discovered to inhibit HIF-1 are natural products or synthetic compounds with structures that are based on natural product leads. Natural products have also served a vital role as molecular probes to elucidate the pathways that regulate HIF-1 activity. Natural products and natural product-derived compounds that inhibit HIF-1 are summarized in light of their biological source, chemical class, ancd effect on HIF-1 and HIF-mediated gene regulation. When known, the mechanism(s) of action of HIF-1 inhibitors are described. Many of the substances found to inhibit HIF-1 are non-druggable compounds that are too cytotoxic to serve as drug leads. The application of high-throughput screening methods, complementary molecular-targeted assays, and structurally diverse chemical libraries hold promise for the discovery of therapeutically useful HIF-1 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2908043  PMID: 16515532
HIF-1; Natural Product; Tumor Hypoxia; Molecular-Targeted Drug Discovery; Small Molecule HIF-1 Inhibitor; Hypoxia Selective
2.  STAT3 and HIF1α cooperatively activate HIF1 target genes in MDA-MB-231 and RCC4 cells 
Oncogene  2013;33(13):1670-1679.
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.
doi:10.1038/onc.2013.115
PMCID: PMC3868635  PMID: 23604114
cotranscriptional activation; HIF; hypoxia; STAT3; transcription
3.  Benzochromenones from the Marine Crinoid Comantheria rotula Inhibit Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1) in Cell-Based Reporter Assays and Differentially Suppress the Growth of Certain Tumor Cell Lines 
Journal of natural products  2007;70(9):1462-1466.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a transcription factor that promotes tumor cell adaptation and survival under hypoxic conditions. HIF-1 is currently recognized as an important molecular target for anti-cancer drug discovery. The NCI Open Repository of marine invertebrates and algae lipid extracts was evaluated using a T47D breast tumor cell-based reporter assay for HIF-1 inhibitory activity. Bioassay-guided fractionation of an active extract from a crinoid Comantheria rotula yielded seven benzo[g]chromen-4-one and benzo[h]chromen-4-one pigments (1–7). The structures of the new benzo[g]chromenone dimer 9,9'-oxybis-neocomantherin (1) and another new natural pigment 5 were deduced from spectroscopic and spectrometric data. The crinoid pigments significantly inhibited both hypoxia-induced and iron chelator-induced HIF-1 luciferase reporter activity in breast and prostate tumor cells. However, inhibition of HIF-1 in the reporter assay did not translate into a significant decrease in expression of the downstream HIF-1 target secreted vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Compound 1 was found to inhibit tumor cell growth in the NCI 60-cell line panel (GI50 values 1.6 to 18.2 μM) and 6 produced a unique pattern of tumor cell growth suppression. Five cell lines from different organs were hypersensitive to 6 (GI50 values 0.29 to 0.62 μM) and three others were moderately sensitive (GI50 values 2.2 to 5.1 μM), while the GI50 values for most other cell lines ranged from 20 to 47 μM. Crinoid benzo[g]chromenones were also found to scavenge radicals in a modified DPPH assay.
doi:10.1021/np070224w
PMCID: PMC2910718  PMID: 17844994
4.  Identification of small molecule compounds that inhibit the HIF-1 signaling pathway 
Molecular Cancer  2009;8:117.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-8-117
PMCID: PMC2797767  PMID: 20003191
5.  Disulfiram deregulates HIF-α subunits and blunts tumor adaptation to hypoxia in hepatoma cells 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2013;34(9):1208-1216.
Aim:
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.
Methods:
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.
Results:
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.
Conclusion:
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.
doi:10.1038/aps.2013.52
PMCID: PMC4003155  PMID: 23852087
disulfiram; hepatoma; hypoxia; HIF-2; VEGF; angiogenesis
6.  CDK1 stabilizes HIF-1α via direct phosphorylation of Ser668 to promote tumor growth 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(23):3689-3701.
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.
doi:10.4161/cc.26930
PMCID: PMC3903720  PMID: 24189531
CDK1; HIF-1α; angiogenesis; cell cycle; hypoxia
7.  Saururus cernuus Lignans - Potent Small Molecule Inhibitors of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) represents an important tumor-selective therapeutic target for solid tumors. In search of novel small molecule HIF-1 inhibitors, 5400 natural product-rich extracts from plants, marine organisms, and microbes were examined for HIF-1 inhibitory activities using a cell-based reporter assay. Bioassay-guided fractionation and isolation, followed by structure elucidation, yielded three potent natural product-derived HIF-1 inhibitors and two structurally related inactive compounds. In a T47D cell-based reporter assay, manassantin B1, manassantin A, and 4-O-methylsaucerneol inhibited hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activation with IC50 values of 3, 3, and 20 nM, respectively. All three compounds are relatively hypoxia-specific inhibitors of HIF-1 activation, in comparison to other stimuli. The hypoxic induction of HIF-1 target genes CDKN1A, VEGF and GLUT-1 were also inhibited. These compounds inhibit HIF-1 by blocking hypoxia-induced nuclear HIF-1α protein accumulation without affecting HIF-1α mRNA levels. In addition, preliminary structure-activity studies suggest specific structural requirements for this class of HIF-1 inhibitors.
doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2005.05.191
PMCID: PMC2905542  PMID: 15967416
Hypoxia; Breast Cancer; HIF-1 Inhibitor; Natural Product; Small Molecule; Dineolignan; Sesquineolignan; Manassantin; Saururus cernuus
8.  Molecular-Targeted Antitumor Agents 15: Neolamellarins from the Marine Sponge Dendrilla nigra Inhibit Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1) Activation and Secreted Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Production in Breast Tumor Cells 
Journal of natural products  2007;70(11):1741-1745.
The transcription factor Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 (HIF-1) has emerged as a major antitumor molecular target. Inhibition of HIF-1 activation has been shown to suppress the growth, survival, and metastatic spread of hypoxic tumors. The NCI Open Repository of marine invertebrates and algae lipid extracts was evaluated for HIF-1 inhibitory activity in a T47D human breast tumor cell-based reporter assay. Bioassay-guided chromatographic separation of the active extract from the sponge Dendrilla nigra produced four new lamellarin-like phenolic pyrroles, which most closely resemble the structure of the known D. cactos compound lamellarin O. However, unlike lamellarins, the structures of neolamellarin A (1), neolamellarin B (2), 5-hydroxyneolamellarin B (3), and 7-hydroxyneolamellarin A (4) lack the carboxyl moiety at position C-2 of the substituted pyrrole ring and have a significantly different pattern of oxidation. Compound 4 was found to inhibit hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activation (IC50 1.9 μM) in T47D cells. Hypoxic induction of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a potent angiogenic factor and HIF-1 target gene, was also inhibited by 4 at the secreted protein level.
doi:10.1021/np070206e
PMCID: PMC2914556  PMID: 17958397
9.  Enhanceosomes as integrators of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) and other transcription factors in the hypoxic transcriptional response 
Cellular signalling  2013;25(9):1895-1903.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.cellsig.2013.05.018
PMCID: PMC3700616  PMID: 23707522
hypoxia; HIF; enhanceosome; transcription factors; tumor microenvironment; transcription
10.  Molecular-Targeted Antitumor Agents 19 
Journal of natural products  2008;71(11):1854-1860.
A natural product chemistry-based approach was employed to discover small molecule inhibitors of the important tumor-selective molecular target hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). Bioassay-guided isolation of an active lipid extract of a Saipan collection of the marine sponge Lendenfeldia sp. afforded the terpene-derived furanolipid furospongolide as the primary inhibitor of hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activation (IC50 2.9 μM, T47D breast tumor cells). The active component of the extract also contained one new cytotoxic scalarane sesterterpene and two previously reported scalaranes. Furospongolide blocked the induction of the downstream HIF-1 target secreted vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and was shown to suppress HIF-1 activation by inhibiting the hypoxic induction of HIF-1α protein. Mechanistic studies indicate that furospongolide inhibits HIF-1 activity primarily by suppressing tumor cell respiration via the blockade of NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I)-mediated mitochondrial electron transfer.
doi:10.1021/np800342s
PMCID: PMC2893247  PMID: 18989978
11.  Tight Control of Hypoxia-inducible Factor-α Transient Dynamics Is Essential for Cell Survival in Hypoxia 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2014;289(9):5549-5564.
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.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M113.500405
PMCID: PMC3937633  PMID: 24394419
Cell Death; Hypoxia; Hypoxia-inducible Factor; Imaging; Mathematical Modeling; Negative Feedback Loop; p53; Prolyl Hydroxylase
12.  HIF-1α: a Valid Therapeutic Target for Tumor Therapy 
Hypoxia plays a major role in the induction of angiogenesis during tumor development. One mechanism by which tumor cells respond to a reduced oxygen level is via the activation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). HIF-1 is an oxygen-dependent transcriptional activator that plays crucial roles in the angiogenesis of tumors and mammalian development. HIF-1 consists of a constitutively expressed HIF-1β subunit and the highly regulated HIF-1α subunits. The stability and activity of HIF-1α are regulated by various post-translational modifications, hydroxylation, acetylation, phosphorylation and sumoyaltion. Therefore, HIF-1α interacts with several protein factors including PHD, pVHL, ARD-1, SUMO and p300/CBP. Under normoxia, the HIF-1α subunit is rapidly degraded via the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene product (pVHL)-mediated ubiquitin/proteasome pathway. The association of pVHL and HIF-1α under normoxic conditions is triggered by the hydroxylation of prolines and the acetylation of lysine within a polypeptide segment known as the oxygen-dependent degradation (ODD) domain. On the contrary, under the hypoxia condition, the HIF-1α subunit becomes stable and interacts with coactivators such as p300/CBP to modulate its transcriptional activity. Under hypoxic conditions, HIF-1 eventually acts as a master regulator of numerous hypoxia-inducible genes. The target genes of HIF-1 are especially related to angiogenesis, cell proliferation and survival, and to glucose and iron metabolism. Moreover, it was reported that the activation of HIF-1α is closely associated with a variety of tumors and oncogenic pathways. Hence, the blocking of HIF-1α itself or the blocking of HIF-1α interacting proteins inhibits tumor growth. Based on these findings, HIF-1 can be a prime target for anticancer therapies. Therefore, this review summarizes the molecular mechanism of HIF-1α stability, the biological functions of HIF-1 and its potential applications for cancer therapies.
doi:10.4143/crt.2004.36.6.343
PMCID: PMC2843877  PMID: 20368827
ARD1; Angiogenesis; Anticancer therapy; Cell proliferation/survival; Glucose metabolism; HIF-1; Iron metabolism; PHD; SUMO; pVHL; p300/CBP; Transcription factor
13.  Hypoxia-inducible factor–2 (HIF-2) regulates hepatic erythropoietin in vivo 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2007;117(4):1068-1077.
Erythropoiesis is critically dependent on erythropoietin (EPO), a glycoprotein hormone that is regulated by hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF). Hepatocytes are the primary source of extrarenal EPO in the adult and express HIF-1 and HIF-2, whose roles in the hypoxic induction of EPO remain controversial. In order to define the role of HIF-1 and HIF-2 in the regulation of hepatic EPO expression, we have generated mice with conditional inactivation of Hif-1α and/or Hif-2α (Epas1) in hepatocytes. We have previously shown that inactivation of the von Hippel–Lindau tumor suppressor pVHL, which targets both HIFs for proteasomal degradation, results in increased hepatic Epo production and polycythemia independent of Hif-1α. Here we show that conditional inactivation of Hif-2α in pVHL-deficient mice suppressed hepatic Epo and the development of polycythemia. Furthermore, we found that physiological Epo expression in infant livers required Hif-2α but not Hif-1α and that the hypoxic induction of liver Epo in anemic adults was Hif-2α dependent. Since other Hif target genes such phosphoglycerate kinase 1 (Pgk) were Hif-1α dependent, we provide genetic evidence that HIF-1 and HIF-2 have distinct roles in the regulation of hypoxia-inducible genes and that EPO is preferentially regulated by HIF-2 in the liver.
doi:10.1172/JCI30117
PMCID: PMC1838939  PMID: 17404621
14.  Natural Product-Derived Small Molecule Activators of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1) 
Current pharmaceutical design  2006;12(21):2673-2688.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a key mediator of oxygen homeostasis that was first identified as a transcription factor that is induced and activated by decreased oxygen tension. Upon activation, HIF-1 upregulates the transcription of genes that promote adaptation and survival under hypoxic conditions. HIF-1 is a heterodimer composed of an oxygen-regulated subunit known as HIF-1α and a constitutively expressed HIF-1β subunit. In general, the availability and activity of the HIF-1α subunit determines the activity of HIF-1. Subsequent studies have revealed that HIF-1 is also activated by environmental and physiological stimuli that range from iron chelators to hormones. Preclinical studies suggest that HIF-1 activation may be a valuable therapeutic approach to treat tissue ischemia and other ischemia/hypoxia-related disorders.
The focus of this review is natural product-derived small molecule HIF-1 activators. Natural products, relatively low molecular weight organic compounds produced by plants, animals, and microbes, have been and continue to be a major source of new drugs and molecular probes. The majority of known natural product-derived HIF-1 activators were discovered through pharmacological evaluation of specifically selected individual compounds. The combination of natural products chemistry with appropriate high-throughput screening bioassays could provide an alternative approach to discover novel natural product-derived HIF-1 activators. Potent natural product-derived HIF-1 activators that exhibit a low level of toxicity and side effects hold promise as new treatment options for diseases such as myocardial and peripheral ischemia, and as chemopreventative agents that could be used to reduce the level of ischemia/reperfusion injury following heart attack and stroke.
PMCID: PMC2907550  PMID: 16842166
HIF-1; Natural Product; Tissue Ischemia; Therapeutic Angiogenesis; Molecular-Target; Small Molecule Activator; Chemoprevention; Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury
15.  The Hypoxia-Associated Factor Switches Cells from HIF-1α– to HIF-2α–Dependent Signaling Promoting Stem Cell Characteristics, Aggressive Tumor Growth and Invasion 
Cancer Research  2011;71(11):4015-4027.
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.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-4142
PMCID: PMC3268651  PMID: 21512133
16.  Hydrogen Sulfide Increases Hypoxia-inducible Factor-1 Activity Independently of von Hippel–Lindau Tumor Suppressor-1 in C. elegans 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(1):212-217.
In C. elegans, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) exposure results in Hif-1 stabilization. hif-1 is required for survival in H2S and constitutive HIF-1 stabilization confers resistance to H2S. H2S-induced HIF-1 reporter activity appears to be independent of VHL-1, whereas VHL-1 is required for hypoxic regulation of HIF-1 reporter activity.
Rapid alteration of gene expression in response to environmental changes is essential for normal development and behavior. The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1 is well known to respond to alterations in oxygen availability. In nature, low oxygen environments are often found to contain high levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Here, we show that Caenorhabditis elegans can have mutually exclusive responses to H2S and hypoxia, both involving HIF-1. Specifically, H2S results in HIF-1 activity throughout the hypodermis, whereas hypoxia causes HIF-1 activity in the gut as judged by a reporter for HIF-1 activity. C. elegans require hif-1 to survive in room air containing trace amounts of H2S. Exposure to H2S results in HIF-1 nuclear localization and transcription of HIF-1 targets. The effects of H2S on HIF-1 reporter activity are independent of von Hippel–Lindau tumor suppressor (VHL)-1, whereas VHL-1 is required for hypoxic regulation of HIF-1 reporter activity. Because H2S is naturally produced by animal cells, our results suggest that endogenous H2S may influence HIF-1 activity.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E09-03-0199
PMCID: PMC2801715  PMID: 19889840
17.  Overcoming evasive resistance from vascular endothelial growth factor a inhibition in sarcomas by genetic or pharmacologic targeting of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α 
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.
What’s new?
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.
doi:10.1002/ijc.27666
PMCID: PMC3677782  PMID: 22684860
sarcomas; hypoxia; HIF-1α; VEGF-A
18.  Upstream Stimulatory Factor 2 and Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 2α (HIF2α) Cooperatively Activate HIF2 Target Genes during Hypoxia 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(22):4595-4610.
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.
doi:10.1128/MCB.00724-12
PMCID: PMC3486188  PMID: 22966206
19.  The Caulerpa Pigment Caulerpin Inhibits HIF-1 Activation and Mitochondrial Respiration 
Journal of natural products  2009;72(12):2104-2109.
The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) represents an important molecular target for anticancer drug discovery. In a T47D cell-based reporter assay, the Caulerpa spp. algal pigment caulerpin (1) inhibited hypoxia-induced as well as 1,10-phenanthroline-induced HIF-1 activation. The angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is regulated by HIF-1. Caulerpin (10 μM) suppressed hypoxic induction of secreted VEGF protein and the ability of hypoxic T47D cell-conditioned media to promote tumor angiogenesis in vitro. Under hypoxic conditions, 1 (10 μM) blocked the induction of HIF-1α protein, the oxygen-regulated subunit that controls HIF-1 activity. Reactive oxygen species produced by mitochondrial complex III are believed to act as a signal of cellular hypoxia that leads to HIF-1α protein induction and activation. Further mechanistic studies revealed that 1 inhibits mitochondrial respiration at electron transport chain (ETC) complex I (NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase). Under hypoxic conditions, it is proposed that 1 may disrupt mitochondrial ROS-regulated HIF-1 activation and HIF-1 downstream target gene expression by inhibiting the transport or delivery of electrons to complex III.
doi:10.1021/np9005794
PMCID: PMC2798910  PMID: 19921787
20.  Identification of a novel small molecule HIF-1α translation inhibitor 
Purpose
Hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is the central mediator of the cellular response to low oxygen and functions as a transcription factor for a broad range of genes that provide adaptive responses to oxygen deprivation. HIF-1 is over-expressed in cancer and has become an important therapeutic target in solid tumors. In this study, a novel HIF-1α inhibitor was identified and its molecular mechanism was investigated.
Experimental Design
Using a HIF-responsive reporter cell-based assay, a 10,000-membered natural product-like chemical compound library was screened to identify novel HIF-1 inhibitors. This led us to discover KC7F2, a lead compound with a central structure of cystamine. The effects of KC7F2 on HIF-1 transcription, translation and protein degradation processes were analyzed.
Results
KC7F2 markedly inhibited HIF-mediated transcription in cells derived from different tumor types, including glioma, breast and prostate cancers and exhibited enhanced cytotoxicity under hypoxia. KC7F2 prevented the activation of HIF-target genes such as Carbonic Anhydrase IX, Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2), Endothelin 1 and Enolase 1. Investigation of the mechanism of action of KC7F2 showed that it worked through the down-regulation of HIF-1α protein synthesis, an effect accompanied by the suppression of the phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E binding protein 1 (4EBP1) and p70 S6 kinase (S6K), key regulators of HIF-1α protein synthesis.
Conclusion
These results show that KC7F2 is a potent HIF-1 pathway inhibitor and that its potential as a cancer therapy agent warrants further study.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-3180
PMCID: PMC2770235  PMID: 19789328
21.  A yeast three-hybrid system that reconstitutes mammalian hypoxia inducible factor regulatory machinery 
BMC Cell Biology  2008;9:18.
Background
Several human pathologies, including neoplasia and ischemic cardiovascular diseases, course with an unbalance between oxygen supply and demand (hypoxia). Cells within hypoxic regions respond with the induction of a specific genetic program, under the control of the Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF), that mediates their adaptation to the lack of oxygen. The activity of HIF is mainly regulated by the EGL-nine homolog (EGLN) enzymes that hydroxylate the alpha subunit of this transcription factor in an oxygen-dependent reaction. Hydroxylated HIF is then recognized and ubiquitinilated by the product of the tumor suppressor gene, pVHL, leading to its proteosomal degradation. Under hypoxia, the hydroxylation of HIF by the EGLNs is compromised due to the lack of oxygen, which is a reaction cosubstrate. Thus, HIF escapes degradation and drives the transcription of its target genes. Since the progression of the aforementioned pathologies might be influenced by activation of HIF-target genes, development of small molecules with the ability to interfere with the HIF-regulatory machinery is of great interest.
Results
Herein we describe a yeast three-hybrid system that reconstitutes mammalian HIF regulation by the EGLNs and VHL. In this system, yeast growth, under specific nutrient restrictions, is driven by the interaction between the β domain of VHL and a hydroxyproline-containing HIFα peptide. In turn, this interaction is strictly dependent on EGLN activity that hydroxylates the HIFα peptide. Importantly, this system accurately preserves the specificity of the hydroxylation reaction toward specific substrates. We propose that this system, in combination with a matched control, can be used as a simple and inexpensive assay to identify molecules that specifically modulate EGLN activity. As a proof of principle we show that two known EGLN inhibitors, dimethyloxaloylglycine (DMOG) and 6-chlor-3-hydroxychinolin-2-carbonic acid-N-carboxymethylamide (S956711), have a profound and specific effect on the yeast HIF/EGLN/VHL system.
Conclusion
The system described in this work accurately reconstitutes HIF regulation while preserving EGLN substrate specificity. Thus, it is a valuable tool to study HIF regulation, and particularly EGLN biochemistry, in a cellular context. In addition, we demonstrate that this system can be used to identify specific inhibitors of the EGLN enzymes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2121-9-18
PMCID: PMC2346465  PMID: 18402654
22.  BAY 87-2243, a highly potent and selective inhibitor of hypoxia-induced gene activation has antitumor activities by inhibition of mitochondrial complex I 
Cancer Medicine  2013;2(5):611-624.
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.
doi:10.1002/cam4.112
PMCID: PMC3892793  PMID: 24403227
Antitumor activity; hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible factor-1; mitochondrial complex 1
23.  Laurenditerpenol, a New Diterpene from the Tropical Marine Alga Laurencia intricata Potently Inhibits HIF-1 Mediated Hypoxic Signaling in Breast Tumor Cells 
Journal of natural products  2004;67(12):2002-2007.
The degree of tumor hypoxia correlates with advanced disease stages and treatment resistance. The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) promotes tumor cell adaptation and survival under hypoxic conditions. Therefore, specific HIF-1 inhibitors represent an important new class of potential tumor-selective therapeutic agents. A T47D human breast tumor cell-based reporter assay was used to examine extracts of plants and marine organisms for inhibitors of HIF-1 activation. Bioassay-guided fractionation of the lipid extract of the red alga Laurencia intricata yielded a structurally novel diterpene laurenditerpenol (1). The structure of 1 was determined spectroscopically. The relative configurations of the substituents of each ring system were assigned based on NOESY correlations. The absolute configurations of positions C-1 was determined by the modified Mosher ester procedure (directly in NMR tubes). Compound 1 potently inhibited hypoxia-activated HIF-1 (IC50: 0.4 μM) and hypoxia-induced VEGF (a potent angiogenic factor) in T47D cells. Compound 1 selectively inhibits HIF-1 activation by hypoxia but not iron chelator induced activation. Further, 1 suppresses tumor cell survival under hypoxic conditions without affecting normoxic cell growth. Compound 1 inhibits HIF-1 by blocking the induction of the oxygen-regulated HIF-1α protein. Mitochondrial respiration studies revealed that 1 suppresses oxygen consumption.
doi:10.1021/np049753f
PMCID: PMC2910713  PMID: 15620241
24.  Hypoxia and the hypoxia-inducible-factor pathway in glioma growth and angiogenesis1 
Neuro-Oncology  2005;7(2):134-153.
Glioblastomas, like other solid tumors, have extensive areas of hypoxia and necrosis. The importance of hypoxia in driving tumor growth is receiving increased attention. Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is one of the master regulators that orchestrate the cellular responses to hypoxia. It is a heterodimeric transcription factor composed of α and β subunits. The α subunit is stable in hypoxic conditions but is rapidly degraded in normoxia. The function of HIF-1 is also modulated by several molecular mechanisms that regulate its synthesis, degradation, and transcriptional activity. Upon stabilization or activation, HIF-1 translocates to the nucleus and induces transcription of its downstream target genes. Most important to gliomagenesis, HIF-1 is a potent activator of angiogenesis and invasion through its upregulation of target genes critical for these functions. Activation of the HIF-1 pathway is a common feature of gliomas and may explain the intense vascular hyperplasia often seen in glioblastoma multiforme. Activation of HIF results in the activation of vascular endothelial growth factors, vascular endothelial growth factor receptors, matrix metalloproteinases, plasminogen activator inhibitor, transforming growth factors α and β, angiopoietin and Tie receptors, endothelin-1, inducible nitric oxide synthase, adrenomedullin, and erythropoietin, which all affect glioma angiogenesis. In conclusion, HIF is a critical regulatory factor in the tumor microenvironment because of its central role in promoting proangiogenic and invasive properties. While HIF activation strongly promotes angiogenesis, the emerging vasculature is often abnormal, leading to a vicious cycle that causes further hypoxia and HIF upregulation.
doi:10.1215/S1152851704001115
PMCID: PMC1871894  PMID: 15831232
25.  Epstein-Barr Virus Latent Membrane Protein 1 Induces Synthesis of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1α 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(12):5223-5234.
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a heterodimeric basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor composed of HIF-1α and HIF-1β that is the central regulator of responses to hypoxia. The specific binding of HIF-1 to the hypoxia-responsive element (HRE) induces the transcription of genes that respond to hypoxic conditions, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Here we report that expression of HIF-1α is increased in diverse Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-infected type II and III cell lines, which express EBV latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1), the principal EBV oncoprotein, as well as other latency proteins, but not in the parental EBV-negative cell lines. We show first that transfection of an LMP1 expression plasmid into Ad-AH cells, an EBV-negative nasopharyngeal epithelial cell line, induces synthesis of HIF-1α protein without increasing its stability or mRNA level. The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase inhibitor PD98059 markedly reduces induction of HIF-1α by LMP1. Catalase, an H2O2 scavenger, strongly suppresses LMP1-induced production of H2O2, which results in a decrease in the expression of HIF-1α induced by LMP1. Inhibition of the NF-κB, c-jun N-terminal kinase, p38 MAPK, and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathways did not affect HIF-1α expression. Moreover, LMP1 induces HIF-1 DNA binding activity and upregulates HRE and VEGF promoter transcriptional activity. Finally, LMP1 increases the appearance of VEGF protein in extracellular fluids; induction of VEGF is suppressed by PD98059 or catalase. These results suggest that LMP1 increases HIF-1 activity through induction of HIF-1α protein expression, which is controlled by p42/p44 MAPK activity and H2O2. The ability of EBV, and specifically its major oncoprotein, LMP1, to induce HIF-1α along with other invasiveness and angiogenic factors reported previously discloses additional oncogenic properties of this tumor virus.
doi:10.1128/MCB.24.12.5223-5234.2004
PMCID: PMC419879  PMID: 15169887

Results 1-25 (1413283)