In addition to act as an antiapoptotic protein, B-cell lymphoma (bcl)-2 can also promote tumor angiogenesis. In this context, we have previously demonstrated that under hypoxia bcl-2 promotes hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1)-mediated vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in melanoma and breast carcinoma. Here, we report on the role of the BH4 domain in bcl-2 functions, by showing that removal of or mutations at the BH4 domain abrogate the ability of bcl-2 to induce VEGF protein expression and transcriptional activity under hypoxia in human melanoma cells. We have also extended this observation to other human tumor histotypes, such as colon, ovarian and lung carcinomas. The involvement of BH4 on HIF-1α protein expression, stability, ubiquitination and HIF-1 transcriptional activity was also demonstrated in melanoma experimental model. Moreover, we validated the role of the BH4 domain of bcl-2 in the regulation of HIF-1/VEGF axis, demonstrating that BH4 peptide is sufficient to increase HIF-1α protein half-life impairing HIF-1α protein ubiquitination, and to enhance VEGF secretion in melanoma cells exposed to hypoxia. Finally, we found that the mechanism by which bcl-2 regulates HIF-1-mediated VEGF expression does not require BH1 and BH2 domains, and it is independent of antiapoptotic and prosurvival function of bcl-2.
bcl-2; BH domain; HIF-1; VEGF; cancer
We have previously demonstrated that bcl-2 overexpression in tumor cells exposed to hypoxia increases the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene through the hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). In this article, we demonstrate that exposure of bcl-2 overexpressing melanoma cells to hypoxia induced phosphorylation of AKT and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 proteins. On the contrary, no modulation of these pathways by bcl-2 was observed under normoxic conditions. When HIF-1α expression was reduced by RNA interference, AKT and ERK1/2 phosphorylation were still induced by bcl-2. Pharmacological inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathways reduced the induction of VEGF and HIF-1 in response to bcl-2 overexpression in hypoxia. No differences were observed between control and bcl-2-overexpressing cells in normoxia, in terms of VEGF protein secretion and in response to PI3K and MAPK inhibitors. We also demonstrated that RNA interference-mediated down-regulation of bcl-2 expression resulted in a decrease in the ERK1/2 phosphorylation and VEGF secretion only in bcl-2-overexpressing cell exposed to hypoxia but not in control cells. In conclusion, our results indicate, for the first time, that bcl-2 synergizes with hypoxia to promote expression of angiogenesis factors in melanoma cells through both PI3K- and MAPK-dependent pathways.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV or HHV-8) is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma, a highly vascularized, endothelial-derived tumor. A direct role for KSHV-mediated induction of angiogenesis has been proposed based upon the nature of the neoplasia and various KSHV gene overexpression and infection model systems. We have found that KSHV infection of endothelial cells induces mRNA of hypoxia-induced factor 1α (HIF1α) and HIF2α, two homologous alpha subunits of the heterodimeric transcription factor HIF. HIF is a master regulator of both developmental and pathological angiogenesis, composed of an oxygen-sensitive alpha subunit and a constitutively expressed beta subunit. HIF is classically activated posttranscriptionally with hypoxia, leading to increased protein stability of HIF1α and/or HIF2α. However, we demonstrate that both alpha subunits are up-regulated at the transcript level by KSHV infection. The transcriptional activation of HIF leads to a functional increase in HIF activity under normoxic conditions, as demonstrated by both luciferase reporter assay and the increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (VEGFR1), an HIF-responsive gene. KSHV infection synergizes with hypoxia mimics and induces higher expression levels of HIF1α and HIF2α protein, and HIF1α is increased in a significant proportion of the latently infected endothelial cells. Src family kinases are required for the activation of HIF and the downstream gene VEGFR1 by KSHV. We also show that KS lesions, in vivo, express elevated levels of HIF1α and HIF2α proteins. Thus, KSHV stimulates the HIF pathway via transcriptional up-regulation of both HIF alphas, and this activation may play a role in KS formation, localization, and progression.
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.
Deregulated c-Myc occurs in ~30% of human cancers. Similarly, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) is commonly overexpressed in a variety of human malignancies. Under physiologic conditions, HIF inhibits c-Myc activity; however, when deregulated oncogenic c-Myc collaborates with HIF in inducing the expression of VEGF, PDK1 and hexokinase 2. Most of the knowledge of HIF derives from studies investigating a role of HIF under hypoxic conditions, however, HIF-1α stabilization is also found in normoxic conditions. Specifically, under hypoxic conditions HIF-1-mediated regulation of oncogenic c-Myc plays a pivotal role in conferring metabolic advantages to tumor cells as well as adaptation to the tumorigenic micromilieu. In addition, our own results show that under normoxic conditions oncogenic c-Myc is required for constitutive high HIF-1 protein levels and activity in Multiple Myeloma (MM) cells, thereby influencing VEGF secretion and angiogenic activity within the bone marrow microenvironment. Further studies are needed to delineate the functional relevance of HIF, MYC, and the HIF-MYC collaboration in MM and other malignancies, also integrating the tumor microenvironment and the cellular context. Importantly, early studies already demonstrate promising preclinical of novel agents, predominantly small molecules, which target c-Myc, HIF or both.
HIF; c-Myc; targeted therapy; tumor microenvironment
Hypoxia may regulate the proliferation of diverse stem cells. Our previous study showed that hypoxia promoted the proliferation of embryonic neural stem/progenitor cells (NPCs) and that hypoxia inducible factor-1(HIF-1) was critical in this process. HIF-1 could be stabilized under hypoxic conditions, and heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) is an essential protein that controls the activity and stabilization of HIF-1α. In the present work, we investigate whether HSP90 is involved in proliferation of NPCs under hypoxia by regulating HIF-1α stabilization. Geldanamycin (GA), an HSP90 inhibitor, decreased the expression of HIF-1α in NPCs during hypoxia-driven proliferation and reduced the expression level of HIF-1α protein under hypoxia in a time-dependent manner. The proliferation of NPCs induced by hypoxia was inhibited after GA treatment for 24 h. Another HSP90 inhibitor, radicicol, had the same effect on NPCs as GA. Furthermore, the expression of erythropoietin (EPO) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in NPCs under hypoxia was suppressed by GA. The above data indicated that HSP90 might be involved in regulation of hypoxia-driven proliferation.
Embryonic neural stem or progenitor cells; Geldanamycin; HIF-1α; HSP90; Hypoxia
The von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor pVHL regulates the stability of Hypoxia-Inducible Factors (HIF) -1 and –2, oxygen-sensitive basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors, which mediate the hypoxic induction of angiogenic growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Loss of VHL function results in constitutive activation of HIF-1 and HIF-2 and is associated with the development of highly vascularized tumors in multiple organs. We have used a conditional gene targeting approach to investigate the relative contributions of HIF-1 and HIF-2 to VHL-associated vascular tumorigenesis in a mouse model of liver hemangiomas. Here we demonstrate genetically that conditional inactivation of HIF-2α suppressed the development of VHL-associated liver hemangiomas and that angiogenic gene expression in hepatocytes is predominantly regulated by HIF-2 and not by HIF-1. These findings suggest that HIF-2 is the dominant HIF in the pathogenesis of VHL-associated vascular tumors and that pharmacologic targeting of HIF-2 may be an effective strategy for their treatment.
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) and HIF-2α display unique and sometimes opposing activities in regulating cellular energy homeostasis, cell fate decisions, and oncogenesis. Macrophages exposed to hypoxia accumulate both HIF-1α and HIF-2α, and overexpression of HIF-2α in tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) is specifically correlated with high-grade human tumors and poor prognosis. However, the precise role of HIF-2α during macrophage-mediated inflammatory responses remains unclear. To fully characterize cellular hypoxic adaptations, distinct functions of HIF-1α versus HIF-2α must be elucidated. We demonstrate here that mice lacking HIF-2α in myeloid cells (Hif2aΔ/Δ mice) are resistant to lipopolysaccharide-induced endotoxemia and display a marked inability to mount inflammatory responses to cutaneous and peritoneal irritants. Furthermore, HIF-2α directly regulated proinflammatory cytokine/chemokine expression in macrophages activated in vitro. Hif2aΔ/Δ mice displayed reduced TAM infiltration in independent murine hepatocellular and colitis-associated colon carcinoma models, and this was associated with reduced tumor cell proliferation and progression. Notably, HIF-2α modulated macrophage migration by regulating the expression of the cytokine receptor M-CSFR and the chemokine receptor CXCR4, without altering intracellular ATP levels. Collectively, our data identify HIF-2α as an important regulator of innate immunity, suggesting it may be a useful therapeutic target for treating inflammatory disorders and cancer.
The pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) remains obscure, although angiogenesis appears to play an important role. We recently confirmed an overexpression of two angiogenic factors, namely vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and platelet-derived endothelial cell growth factor (PD-ECGF), by the lining and stromal cells of the synovium in both conditions. Because hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1α and HIF-2α are essential in regulating transcription of the VEGF gene, active participation of HIF-α molecules in the pathogenesis of these arthritides is anticipated. We investigated the immunohistochemical expression of HIF-1α and HIF-2α in the synovium of 22 patients with RA, 34 patients with OA and 22 'normal' nonarthritic individuals, in relation to VEGF, VEGF/KDR (kinase insert domain protein receptor) vascular activation, PD-ECGF and bcl-2. A significant cytoplasmic and nuclear overexpression of HIF-1α and HIF-2α was noted in the synovial lining and stromal cells of both diseases relative to normal. Overexpression of HIF-αs was related to high microvessel density, high PD-ECGF expression and high VEGF/KDR receptor activation, suggesting HIF-α-dependent synovial angiogenesis in OA. By contrast, the activation of the angiogenic VEGF/KDR pathway was persistently increased in RA, as indeed was microvessel density and the expression of PD-ECGF, irrespective of the extent of HIF-α expression, indicating a cytokine-dependent angiogenesis. In all cases, the VEGF/KDR vascular activation was significantly lower in OA than in RA, suggesting a relative failure of the HIF-α pathway to effectively produce a viable vasculature for OA, which is consistent with the degenerative nature of the disease. The activation of the HIF-α pathway occurs in both RA and OA, although for unrelated reasons.
hypoxia inducible factors; osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; thymidine phosphorylase; VEGF
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a transcription factor, which plays a central role in biologic processes under hypoxic conditions, especially concerning tumour angiogenesis. HIF-1α is the relevant, oxygen-dependent subunit and its overexpression has been associated with a poor prognosis in a variety of malignant tumours. Therefore, HIF-1α expression in early stage oral carcinomas was evaluated in relation to established clinico-pathological features in order to determine its value as a prognostic marker.
85 patients with histologically proven surgically treated T1/2 squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the oral floor were eligible for the study. Tumor specimens were investigated by means of tissue micro arrays (TMAs) and immunohistochemistry for the expression of HIF-1. Correlations between clinical features and the expression of HIF-1 were evaluated by Kaplan-Meier curves, log-rank tests and multivariate Cox regression analysis.
HIF-1α was frequently overexpressed in a probably non-hypoxia related fashion. The expression of HIF-1α was related with a significantly improved 5-year survival rate (p < 0.01) and a significantly increased disease free period (p = 0.01) independent from nodal status and tumour size. In primary node negative T1/T2 SCC of the oral floor, absence of HIF-1α expression specified a subgroup of high-risk patients (p < 0.05).
HIF-1α overexpression is an indicator of favourable prognosis in T1 and T2 SCC of the oral floor. Node negative patients lacking HIF-1α expression may therefore be considered for adjuvant radiotherapy.
The endothelin B receptor (ETBR) promotes tumorigenesis and melanoma progression through activation by endothelin (ET)-1, thus representing a promising therapeutic target. The stability of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α is essential for melanomagenesis and progression, and is controlled by site-specific hydroxylation carried out by HIF-prolyl hydroxylase domain (PHD) and subsequent proteosomal degradation.
Here we found that in melanoma cells ET-1, ET-2, and ET-3 through ETBR, enhance the expression and activity of HIF-1α and HIF-2α that in turn regulate the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in response to ETs or hypoxia. Under normoxic conditions, ET-1 controls HIF-α stability by inhibiting its degradation, as determined by impaired degradation of a reporter gene containing the HIF-1α oxygen-dependent degradation domain encompassing the PHD-targeted prolines. In particular, ETs through ETBR markedly decrease PHD2 mRNA and protein levels and promoter activity. In addition, activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-dependent integrin linked kinase (ILK)-AKT-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is required for ETBR-mediated PHD2 inhibition, HIF-1α, HIF-2α, and VEGF expression. At functional level, PHD2 knockdown does not further increase ETs-induced in vitro tube formation of endothelial cells and melanoma cell invasiveness, demonstrating that these processes are regulated in a PHD2-dependent manner. In human primary and metastatic melanoma tissues as well as in cell lines, that express high levels of HIF-1α, ETBR expression is associated with low PHD2 levels. In melanoma xenografts, ETBR blockade by ETBR antagonist results in a concomitant reduction of tumor growth, angiogenesis, HIF-1α, and HIF-2α expression, and an increase in PHD2 levels.
In this study we identified the underlying mechanism by which ET-1, through the regulation of PHD2, controls HIF-1α stability and thereby regulates angiogenesis and melanoma cell invasion. These results further indicate that targeting ETBR may represent a potential therapeutic treatment of melanoma by impairing HIF-1α stability.
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
c-Myc is frequently overexpressed in tumors and plays an important role in the regulation of cancer metabolism. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF1), the master regulator of the hypoxic response, enhances tumorigenesis and influences metabolism via upregulation of the glycolytic pathway and suppression of mitochondrial respiration. Together, deregulated Myc and HIF1 cooperate to lend metabolic advantages to proliferating cancer cells and contribute to the Warburg Effect. Here we show that overexpression of Myc significantly stabilizes the alpha subunit of HIF1 (HIF1alpha) under normoxic conditions and enhances HIF1alpha accumulation under hypoxic conditions in cells. Post-transcriptional regulation of HIF1α by Myc led to the induction of HIF1α gene targets. Normoxic HIF1α protein expression was also dependent on Myc. Functionally; HIF1α expression was required for Myc-induced anchorage-independent growth and cell proliferation. Myc-dependent stabilization of HIF1α involved either disruption of binding to the VHL complex or post-translational protein modifications. Taken together, our findings uncover a previously uncharacterized regulatory relationship between Myc and HIF1 that has important implications for cancer metabolism and development.
Hypoxia is a common condition found in a wide range of solid tumors and is often associated with poor prognosis. Hypoxia increases tumor glycolysis, angiogenesis and other survival response as well as invasion and metastasis by activating relevant gene expressions through hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs). HIF-1α and HIF-2α undergo oxygen-dependent regulation and their overexpression is frequently associated with metastasis and poor clinical outcomes. Recent studies show that each step of the metastasis process, from the initial epithelial-mesenchymal transition to the ultimate organotropic colonization, can potentially be regulated by hypoxia, suggesting a master regulator role of hypoxia and HIFs in metastasis. Furthermore, modulation of cancer stem cell self-renewal by HIFs may also contribute to the hypoxia-regulated metastasis program. Hypoxia-induced metastatic phenotype may be one of the reasons for the modest efficacy of antiangiogenic therapies and may well explain the recent provocative findings that antiangiogenic therapy increased metastasis in preclinical models. Multiple approaches to targeting hypoxia and HIFs, including HIF inhibitors, hypoxia-activated bioreductive prodrugs and gene therapies may become effective treatments to prevent or reduce metastasis.
Neuropilin-2 (NRP2) is a receptor expressed by tumor cells and endothelial cells (EC) that binds both semaphorin 3F (SEMA3F), a potent inhibitor of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a potent stimulator of tumor angiogenesis. It was found that glioblastoma and melanoma cells repressed NRP2 expression when maintained under hypoxic conditions and after treatment with the hypoxia-mimetic agent desferrioxamine (DFO), at both the mRNA and protein levels. Silencing of HIF1-α, the hypoxia-induced subunit of the hypoxia inducible factor (HIF), abrogated DFO-induced NRP2 repression. Conversely, ectopic expression of HIF1-α directly repressed NRP2 promoter activity and expression. NRP2 is the sole receptor for SE MA3F. Loss of NRP2 expression in tumor cells inhibited SE MA3F-dependent activities, such as inactivation of RhoA, depolymerization of F-actin and inhibition of tumor cell migration. On the other hand, loss of NRP2 expression in tumor cells increased VEGF protein levels in conditioned media, with no effects on VEGF mRNA levels. This increase in VEGF protein levels promoted paracrine activation of EC, including VEGF receptor-2 phosphorylation and activation of downstream signaling proteins such as p44/42 MAPK and p38 MAPK. In addition, the elevated VEGF levels induced EC migration and sprouting, two key steps of tumor angiogenesis in vivo. It was concluded that hypoxia regulates VEGF and SE MA3F activities through transcriptional repression of their common receptor NRP2, providing a novel mechanism by which hypoxia induces tumor angiogenesis, growth and metastasis.
hypoxia; tumor; angiogenesis; neuropilin-2; VEGF; semaphorin 3F; endothelial cells; migration
Endothelial cells respond to hypoxia by decreased degradation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α), accumulation of which leads to increased transcription of numerous proteins involved in cell growth and survival. Ascorbic acid prevents HIF-1α stabilization in many cell types, but the physiologic relevance of such effects is uncertain. Given their relevance for angiogenesis, endothelial cells in culture were used to evaluate the effects of ascorbate on HIF-1α expression induced by hypoxia and the hypoxia mimic cobalt. Although Ea.hy926 cells in culture under oxygenated conditions did not contain ascorbate, HIF-1α expression was very low, showing that the vitamin is not necessary to suppress HIF-1α. On the other hand, hypoxia- or cobalt-induced HIF-1α expression/stabilization was almost completely suppressed by what are likely physiologic intracellular ascorbate concentrations. Increased HIF-1α expression was not associated with significant changes in expression of the SVCT2, the major transporter for ascorbate in these cells. Cobalt at concentrations sufficient to stabilize HIF-1α both oxidized intracellular ascorbate and induced an oxidant stress in the cells that was prevented by ascorbate. Whereas the interaction of ascorbate and cobalt is complex, the presence of physiologic low millimolar concentrations of ascorbate in endothelial cells effectively decreases HIF-1α expression and protects against cobalt-induced oxidant stress.
ascorbate transport; dehydroascorbate uptake; HIF-1α; hypoxia; cobalt; SVCT2; endothelial cells
The hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) transcription complex, which is activated by low oxygen tension, controls a diverse range of cellular processes including angiogenesis and erythropoiesis. Under normoxic conditions, the α subunit of HIF is rapidly degraded in a manner dependent on hydroxylation of two conserved proline residues at positions 402 and 564 in HIF-1α in the oxygen-dependent degradation (ODD) domain. This allows subsequent recognition by the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor protein, which targets HIF for degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Under hypoxic conditions, prolyl hydroxylation of HIF is inhibited, allowing it to escape VHL-mediated degradation. The transcriptional regulation of the erythropoietin gene by HIF raises the possibility that HIF may play a role in disorders of erythropoiesis, such as idiopathic erythrocytosis (IE).
Patients with IE were screened for changes in the HIF-1α coding sequence, and a change in the ODD domain that converts Pro-582 to Ser was identified in several patients. This same change, however, was also detected at a significant frequency, 0.073, in unaffected controls compared to 0.109 in the IE patient group. In vitro hydroxylation assays examining this amino acid change failed to reveal a discernible effect on HIF hydroxylation at Pro-564.
The Pro582Ser change represents a common polymorphism of HIF-1α that does not impair HIF-1α prolyl hydroxylation. Although the Pro582Ser polymorphism is located in the ODD domain of HIF-1α it does not diminish the association of HIF-1α with VHL. Thus, it is unlikely that this polymorphism accounts for the erythrocytosis in the group of IE patients studied.
Cellular metabolism depends on the availability of oxygen and the major regulator of oxygen homeostasis is hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1), a highly conserved transcription factor that plays an essential role in cellular and systemic homeostatic responses to hypoxia. HIF-1 is a heterodimeric transcription factor composed of hypoxia-inducible HIF-1α and constitutively expressed HIF-1β. Under hypoxic conditions, the two subunits dimerize, allowing translocation of the HIF-1 complex to the nucleus where it binds to hypoxia-response elements (HREs) and activates expression of target genes implicated in angiogenesis, cell growth, and survival. The HIF-1 pathway is essential to normal growth and development, and is involved in the pathophysiology of cancer, inflammation, and ischemia. Thus, there is considerable interest in identifying compounds that modulate the HIF-1 signaling pathway. To assess the ability of environmental chemicals to stimulate the HIF-1 signaling pathway, we screened a National Toxicology Program collection of 1408 compounds using a cell-based β-lactamase HRE reporter gene assay in a quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) format. Twelve active compounds were identified. These compounds were tested in a confirmatory assay for induction of vascular endothelial growth factor, a known hypoxia target gene, and confirmed compounds were further tested for their ability to mimic the effect of a reduced-oxygen environment on hypoxia-regulated promoter activity. Based on this testing strategy, three compounds (o-phenanthroline, iodochlorohydroxyquinoline, cobalt sulfate heptahydrate) were confirmed as hypoxia mimetics, whereas two compounds (7-diethylamino-4-methylcoumarin and 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracence) were found to interact with HIF-1 in a manner different from hypoxia. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of qHTS in combination with secondary assays for identification of HIF-1α inducers and for distinguishing among inducers based on their pattern of activated hypoxic target genes. Identification of environmental compounds having HIF-1α activation activity in cell-based assays may be useful for prioritizing chemicals for further testing as hypoxia-response inducers in vivo.
cobalt sulfate heptahydrate; 7-diethylamino-4-methylcoumarin; 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracence; HIF-1α; inducers; iodochlorohydroxyquinoline; NTP 1408 compound library; o-phenanthroline; qHTS
Placental development initially occurs in a low-oxygen (O2) or hypoxic environment. In this report we show that two hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs), HIF1α and HIF2α, are essential for determining murine placental cell fates. HIF is a heterodimer composed of HIFα and HIFβ (ARNT) subunits. Placentas from Arnt−/− and Hif1α−/− Hif2α−/− embryos exhibit defective placental vascularization and aberrant cell fate adoption. HIF regulation of Mash2 promotes spongiotrophoblast differentiation, a prerequisite for trophoblast giant cell differentiation. In the absence of Arnt or Hifα, trophoblast stem cells fail to generate these cell types and become labyrinthine trophoblasts instead. Therefore, HIF mediates placental morphogenesis, angiogenesis, and cell fate decisions, demonstrating that O2 tension is a critical regulator of trophoblast lineage determination. This novel genetic approach provides new insights into the role of O2 tension in the development of life-threatening pregnancy-related diseases such as preeclampsia.
Angiogenesis is essential for promoting growth and metastasis of solid tumors by ensuring blood supply to the tumor mass. Targeting angiogenesis is therefore an attractive approach to therapeutic intervention of cancer. Tumor angiogenesis is a process that is controlled by a complex network of molecular components including sensors, signaling transducers, and effectors, leading to cellular responses under hypoxic conditions. Positioned at the center of this network are the hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs). HIF-1 is a major transcription factor that consists of two subunits, HIF-1α and HIF-1β. It mediates transcription of a spectrum of gene targets whose products are essential for mounting hypoxic responses. HIF-1α protein level is very low in the normoxic condition but is rapidly elevated under hypoxia. This dramatic change in the cellular HIF-1α level is primarily regulated through the proteosome-mediated degradation process. In the past few years, scientific progress has clearly demonstrated that HIF-1α phosphorylation is mediated by several families of protein kinases including GSK3β and ERKs both of which play crucial roles in the regulation of HIF-1α stability. Recent research progress has identified that Polo-like kinase 3 (Plk3) phosphorylates HIF-1α at two previously unidentified serine residues and that the Plk3-mediated phosphorylation of these residues results in destabilization of HIF-1α. Plk3 has also recently been found to phosphorylate and stabilize PTEN phosphatase, a known regulator of HIF-1α and tumor angiogenesis. Given the success of targeting protein kinases and tumor angiogenesis in anti-cancer therapies, Plk3 could be a potential molecular target for the development of novel and effective therapeutic agents for cancer treatment.
Plk3; Tumor angiogenesis; Tumor suppression; HIF-1α; PTEN
Hypoxia, a reduction in partial oxygen pressure, is a salient property of solid tumors. Hypoxia drives malignant progression and metastasis in tumors and participates in tumor resistance to radio- and chemotherapies. Hypoxia activates the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) family of transcription factors, which induce target genes that regulate adaptive biological processes such as anaerobic metabolism, cell motility and angiogenesis. Clinical evidence has demonstrated that expression of HIF-1 is strongly associated with poor patient prognosis and activation of HIF-1 contributes to malignant behavior and therapeutic resistance. Consequently, HIF-1 has become an important therapeutic target for inhibition by small molecules. Herein, we describe the design and synthesis of small molecules that inhibit the HIF-1 signaling pathway. Many of these compounds exhibit inhibitory activity in the nanomolar range. Separate mechanistic studies indicate that these inhibitors do not alter HIF-1 levels, but interfere with the HIF-1α/HIF-1β/p300/CBP complex formation by interacting with p300 and CBP.
drug development; cancer; hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible factor; transcription factor
Transcriptional responses to hypoxia are primarily mediated by hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), a heterodimer of HIF-α and the aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator subunits. The HIF-1α and HIF-2α subunits are structurally similar in their DNA binding and dimerization domains but differ in their transactivation domains, implying they may have unique target genes. Previous studies using Hif-1α−/− embryonic stem and mouse embryonic fibroblast cells show that loss of HIF-1α eliminates all oxygen-regulated transcriptional responses analyzed, suggesting that HIF-2α is dispensable for hypoxic gene regulation. In contrast, HIF-2α has been shown to regulate some hypoxia-inducible genes in transient transfection assays and during embryonic development in the lung and other tissues. To address this discrepancy, and to identify specific HIF-2α target genes, we used DNA microarray analysis to evaluate hypoxic gene induction in cells expressing HIF-2α but not HIF-1α. In addition, we engineered HEK293 cells to express stabilized forms of HIF-1α or HIF-2α via a tetracycline-regulated promoter. In this first comparative study of HIF-1α and HIF-2α target genes, we demonstrate that HIF-2α does regulate a variety of broadly expressed hypoxia-inducible genes, suggesting that its function is not restricted, as initially thought, to endothelial cell-specific gene expression. Importantly, HIF-1α (and not HIF-2α) stimulates glycolytic gene expression in both types of cells, clearly showing for the first time that HIF-1α and HIF-2α have unique targets.
Hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1 plays an important role in cellular adaptation to hypoxia by activating oxygen-regulated genes such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and erythropoietin. Sputum VEGF levels are reported to be decreased in COPD, despite hypoxia. Here we show that patients with COPD fail to induce HIF-1α and VEGF under hypoxic condition because of a reduction in histone deacetylase (HDAC) 7.
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were obtained from patients with moderate to severe COPD (n = 21), smokers without COPD (n = 12), and nonsmokers (n = 15). PBMCs were exposed to hypoxia (1% oxygen, 5% CO2, and 94% N2) for 24 h, and HIF-1α and HDAC7 protein expression in nuclear extracts were determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate poly acrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE)/Western blotting.
HIF-1α was significantly induced by hypoxia in each group when compared with the normoxic condition (12-fold induction in nonsmokers, 24-fold induction in smokers without COPD, fourfold induction in COPD), but induction of HIF-1α under hypoxia was significantly lower in patients with COPD than in nonsmokers and smokers without COPD (P < .05 and P < .01, respectively). VEGF messenger RNA detected by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction was correlated with HIF-1α protein in nuclei (r = 0.79, P < .05), and HDAC7 protein expression was correlated with HIF-1α protein in nuclei (r = 0.46, P < .05). HDAC7 knockdown inhibited hypoxia-induced HIF-1α activity in U937 cells, and HIF-1α nuclear translocation and HIF-1α binding to the VEGF promoter in A549 cells.
HDAC7 reduction in COPD causes a defect of HIF-1α induction response to hypoxia with impaired VEGF gene expression. This poor cellular adaptation might play a role in the pathogenesis of COPD.
Hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) protein is rapidly degraded under normoxic conditions. When oxygen tensions fall HIF-1α protein stabilizes and transactivates genes involved in adaptation to hypoxic conditions. We have examined the normoxic expression of HIF-1α RNA and protein in normal human melanocytes and a series of human melanoma cell lines isolated from radial growth phase (RGP), vertical growth phase (VGP) and metastatic (MET) melanomas.
HIF-1α mRNA and protein was increased in RGP vs melanocytes, VGP vs RGP and MET vs VGP melanoma cell lines. We also detected expression of a HIF-1α mRNA splice variant that lacks part of the oxygen-dependent regulation domain in WM1366 and WM9 melanoma cells. Over-expression of HIF-1α and its splice variant in the RGP cell line SbCl2 resulted in a small increase in soft agar colony formation and a large increase in matrigel invasion relative to control transfected cells. Knockdown of HIF-1α expression by siRNA in the MET WM9 melanoma cell line resulted in a large decrease in both soft agar colony formation and matrigel invasion relative to cells treated with non-specific siRNA. There is a high level of ERK1/2 phosphorylation in WM9 cells, indicating an activated Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK1/2 MAPK pathway. Treatment of WM9 cells with 30 μM U0126 MEK inhibitor, decreased ERK1/2 phosphorylation and resulted in a decrease in HIF-1α expression. However, a 24 h treatment with 10 μM U0126 totally eliminated Erk1/2 phosphorylation, but did not change HIF-1alpha levels. Furthermore, siRNA knockdown of MEK siRNA did not change HIF-1alpha levels.
We speculate that metabolic products of U0126 decrease HIF-1alpha expression through "off target" effects. Overall our data suggest that increased HIF-1α expression under normoxic conditions contributes to some of the malignant phenotypes exhibited by human melanoma cells. The expanded role of HIF-1α in melanoma biology increases its importance as a therapeutic target.
Angiogenesis and bone formation are intimately related processes. Hypoxia during early bone development stabilizes hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and increases angiogenic signals including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Furthermore, stabilization of HIF-1α by genetic or chemical means stimulates bone formation. On the other hand, deficiency of Runx2, a key osteogenic transcription factor, prevents vascular invasion of bone and VEGF expression. This study explores the possibility that HIF-1α and Runx2 interact to activate angiogenic signals. Runx2 over-expression in mesenchymal cells increased VEGF mRNA and protein under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. In normoxia, Runx2 also dramatically increased HIF-1α protein. In all cases, the Runx2 response was inhibited by siRNA-mediated suppression of HIF-1α and completely blocked by the HIF-1α inhibitor, echinomycin. Similarly, treatment of preosteoblast cells with Runx2 siRNA reduced VEGF mRNA in normoxia or hypoxia. However, Runx2 is not essential for the HIF-1α response since VEGF is induced by hypoxia even in Runx2-null cells. Endogenous Runx2 and HIF-1α were colocalized to the nuclei of MC3T3-E1 preosteoblast cells. Moreover, HIF-1α and Runx2 physically interact using sites within the Runx2 RUNT domain. Chromatin immunoprecipitation also provided evidence for colocalization of Runx2 and HIF-1α on the VEGF promoter. In addition, Runx2 stimulated HIF-1α-dependent activation of an HRE-luciferase reporter gene without requiring a separate Runx2-binding enhancer. These studies indicate that Runx2 functions together with HIF-1α to stimulate angiogenic gene expression in bone cells and may in part explain the known requirement for Runx2 in bone vascularization.
Osteoblast; vascularization; angiogenesis; transcriptional factors; hypoxia