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1.  Proteasome-dependent regulation of signal transduction in retinal pigment epithelial cells 
Experimental eye research  2006;83(6):1472-1481.
As in many other types of cells, retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells have an active ubiquitin—proteasome pathway (UPP). However, the function of the UPP in RPE remains to be elucidated. The objective of this study is to determine the role of the UPP in controlling the levels and activities of transcription factors hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) and NF-κB. We inhibited the UPP with proteasome-specific inhibitors and determined the activation of HIF and NF-κB as well as the expression and secretion of pro-angiogenic factors. HIF-1α was not detectable in ARPE-19 cells under normal culture conditions. However, when proteasome activity was inhibited, HIF-1α accumulated in RPE in a time-dependent manner. Consistent with accumulation of HIF-1α in the cells, levels of mRNA for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) in RPE were up to 7-fold higher upon inhibition of the proteasome. Proteasome inhibition was also associated with a 2-fold increase in levels of mRNA for angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1). ARPE-19 cells secrete significant levels of VEGF under normal culture conditions. Inhibition of proteasome activity increased the secretion of VEGF by 2-fold. In contrast to the increase in HIF activity, NF-κB activation was reduced by proteasome inhibition. In addition, the expression and secretion of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) by RPE were substantially attenuated by the inhibition of proteasome activity. These data demonstrate that the UPP plays an important role in modulating the activities of HIF and NF-κB in the RPE. Consequences of an impairment of the UPP include accumulation of HIF-1α and diminished NF-κB activation, which lead to enhanced expression and secretion of pro-angiogenic factors and attenuated expression of MCP-1. Taken together, these data predict that the impairment of the UPP could lead to the development of AMD-related phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC2039698  PMID: 17027001
age-related macular degeneration; angiogenesis; signal transduction; retinal pigment epithelium; ubiquitin; proteasome; hypoxia-inducible factor; vascular endothelial growth factor; monocyte chemoattractant protein-1
2.  Co-culture of Retinal and Endothelial Cells Results in the Modulation of Genes Critical to Retinal Neovascularization 
Vascular Cell  2011;3:27.
Neovascularization (angiogenesis) is a multistep process, controlled by opposing regulatory factors, which plays a crucial role in several ocular diseases. It often results in vitreous hemorrhage, retinal detachment, neovascularization glaucoma and subsequent vision loss. Hypoxia is considered to be one of the key factors to trigger angiogenesis by inducing angiogenic factors (like VEGF) and their receptors mediated by hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1α) a critical transcriptional factor. Another factor, nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) also regulates many of the genes required for neovascularization, and can also be activated by hypoxia. The aim of this study was to elucidate the mechanism of interaction between HRPC and HUVEC that modulates a neovascularization response.
Human retinal progenitor cells (HRPC) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) were cultured/co-cultured under normoxia (control) (20% O2) or hypoxia (1% O2) condition for 24 hr. Controls were monolayer cultures of each cell type maintained alone. We examined the secretion of VEGF by ELISA and influence of conditioned media on blood vessel growth (capillary-like structures) via an angiogenesis assay. Total RNA and protein were extracted from the HRPC and HUVEC (cultured and co-cultured) and analyzed for the expression of VEGF, VEGFR-2, NFκB and HIF-1α by RT-PCR and Western blotting. The cellular localization of NFκB and HIF-1α were studied by immunofluorescence and Western blotting.
We found that hypoxia increased exogenous VEGF expression 4-fold in HRPC with a further 2-fold increase when cultured with HUVEC. Additionally, we found that hypoxia induced the expression of the VEGF receptor (VEGFR-2) for HRPC co-cultured with HUVEC. Hypoxia treatment significantly enhanced (8- to 10-fold higher than normoxia controls) VEGF secretion into media whether cells were cultured alone or in a co-culture. Also, hypoxia was found to result in a 3- and 2-fold increase in NFκB and HIF-1α mRNA expression by HRPC and a 4- and 6-fold increase in NFκB and HIF-1α protein by co-cultures, whether non-contacting or contacting.
Treatment of HRPC cells with hypoxic HUVEC-CM activated and promoted the translocation of NFκB and HIF-1α to the nuclear compartment. This finding was subsequently confirmed by finding that hypoxic HUVEC-CM resulted in higher expression of NFκB and HIF-1α in the nuclear fraction of HRPC and corresponding decrease in cytoplasmic NFκB and HIF-1α. Lastly, hypoxic conditioned media induced a greater formation of capillary-like structures (angiogenic response) compared to control conditioned media. This effect was attenuated by exogenous anti-human VEGF antibody, suggesting that VEGF was the primary factor in the hypoxic conditioned media responsible for the angiogenic response.
These findings suggest that intercellular communications between HRPC and HUVEC lead to the modulation of expression of transcription factors associated with the production of pro-angiogenic factors under hypoxic conditions, which are necessary for an enhanced neovascular response. Our data suggest that the hypoxia treatment results in the up-regulation of both mRNA and protein expression for VEGF and VEGFR-2 through the translocation of NFκB and HIF-1α into the nucleus, and results in enhanced HRPC-induced neovascularization. Hence, a better understanding of the underlying mechanism for these interactions might open perspectives for future retinal neovascularization therapy.
PMCID: PMC3253041  PMID: 22112782
Neovascularization; Human retinal progenitor cells (HRPC); Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC); Hypoxia, Vascular endothelial growth factor; Conditioned medium; Co-culture
3.  Ritonavir inhibits HIF-1α-mediated VEGF expression in retinal pigment epithelial cells in vitro 
Eye  2013;28(1):93-101.
Retinal hypoxia-mediated activation of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF pathway) leading to angiogenesis is a major signaling mechanism underlying a number of sight-threatening diseases. Inhibiting this signaling mechanism with an already approved therapeutic molecule may have promising anti-angiogenic role with fewer side effects. Hence, the primary objective of this study was to examine the expression of HIF-1α and VEGF in human retinal pigment epithelial cells treated with ritonavir under hypoxic and normoxic conditions.
ARPE-19 and D407 cells were cultured in normoxic or hypoxic conditions, alone or in the presence of ritonavir. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, immunoblot analysis, sandwich ELISA, endothelial cell proliferation, and cytotoxicity were performed.
A 12-h hypoxic exposure resulted in elevated mRNA expression levels of both HIF-1α and VEGF in ARPE-19 and D407 cells. Hence, this time point was selected for subsequent experiments. Presence of ritonavir in the culture medium strongly inhibited VEGF expression in a concentration-dependent manner under hypoxic conditions. Immunoblot analysis demonstrated a substantially reduced protein expression of HIF-1α in the presence of ritonavir. Further, hypoxic exposure-induced VEGF secretion was also inhibited by ritonavir, as demonstrated using ELISA. Finally, ritonavir significantly diminished the proliferation of choroid-retinal endothelial (RF/6A) cells demonstrating potential anti-angiogenic activity. Cytotoxicity studies showed that ritonavir is non-toxic to RPE cells.
This study demonstrates for the first time that ritonavir can inhibit HIF-1α and VEGF in ARPE-19 and D407 cells. Such inhibition may form a platform for application of ritonavir in the treatment of various ocular diseases.
PMCID: PMC3890766  PMID: 24202050
hypoxia-inducible factor; vascular endothelial growth factor; ocular neovascularization; retinal pigment epithelial cells; drug repositioning; ritonavir
4.  Cobalt stimulates HIF-1-dependent but inhibits HIF-2-dependent gene expression in liver cancer cells 
The international journal of biochemistry & cell biology  2013;45(11):10.1016/j.biocel.2013.07.025.
Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are transcriptional regulators that mediate the cellular response to low oxygen. Although HIF-1 is usually considered as the principal mediator of hypoxic adaptation, several tissues and different cell types express both HIF-1 and HIF-2 isoforms under hypoxia or when treated with hypoxia mimetic chemicals such as cobalt. However, the similarities or differences between HIF-1 and HIF-2, in terms of their tissue- and inducer-specific activation and function, are not adequately characterized. To address this issue, we investigated the effects of true hypoxia and hypoxia mimetics on HIF-1 and HIF-2 induction and specific gene transcriptional activity in two hepatic cancer cell lines, Huh7 and HepG2. Both hypoxia and cobalt caused rapid induction of both HIF-1α and HIF-2α proteins. Hypoxia induced erythropoietin (EPO) expression and secretion in a HIF-2-dependent way. Surprisingly, however, EPO expression was not induced when cells were treated with cobalt. In agreement, both HIF-1- and HIF-2-dependent promoters (of PGK and SOD2 genes, respectively) were activated by hypoxia while cobalt only activated the HIF-1-dependent PGK promoter. Unlike cobalt, other hypoxia mimetics such as DFO and DMOG activated both types of promoters. Furthermore, cobalt impaired the hypoxic stimulation of HIF-2, but not HIF-1, activity and cobalt-induced HIF-2α interacted poorly with USF-2, a HIF-2-specific co-activator. These data show that, despite similar induction of HIF-1α and HIF-2α protein expression, HIF-1 and HIF-2 specific gene activating functions respond differently to different stimuli and suggest the operation of oxygen-independent and gene- or tissue-specific regulatory mechanisms involving additional transcription factors or co-activators.
PMCID: PMC3855297  PMID: 23958427
HIF-2α; EPO; SOD2; Hypoxia; Cobalt; USF2
5.  HIF-1alpha and HIF-2alpha Are Differentially Activated in Distinct Cell Populations in Retinal Ischaemia 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11103.
Hypoxia plays a key role in ischaemic and neovascular disorders of the retina. Cellular responses to oxygen are mediated by hypoxia-inducible transcription factors (HIFs) that are stabilised in hypoxia and induce the expression of a diverse range of genes. The purpose of this study was to define the cellular specificities of HIF-1alpha and HIF-2alpha in retinal ischaemia, and to determine their correlation with the pattern of retinal hypoxia and the expression profiles of induced molecular mediators.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We investigated the tissue distribution of retinal hypoxia during oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) in mice using the bio-reductive drug pimonidazole. We measured the levels of HIF-1alpha and HIF-2alpha proteins by Western blotting and determined their cellular distribution by immunohistochemistry during the development of OIR. We measured the temporal expression profiles of two downstream mediators, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and erythropoietin (Epo) by ELISA. Pimonidazole labelling was evident specifically in the inner retina. Labelling peaked at 2 hours after the onset of hypoxia and gradually declined thereafter. Marked binding to Müller glia was evident during the early hypoxic stages of OIR. Both HIF-1alpha and HIF-2alpha protein levels were significantly increased during retinal hypoxia but were evident in distinct cellular distributions; HIF-1alpha stabilisation was evident in neuronal cells throughout the inner retinal layers whereas HIF-2alpha was restricted to Müller glia and astrocytes. Hypoxia and HIF-alpha stabilisation in the retina were closely followed by upregulated expression of the downstream mediators VEGF and EPO.
Both HIF-1alpha and HIF-2alpha are activated in close correlation with retinal hypoxia but have contrasting cell specificities, consistent with differential roles in retinal ischaemia. Our findings suggest that HIF-2alpha activation plays a key role in regulating the response of Müller glia to hypoxia.
PMCID: PMC2885428  PMID: 20559438
6.  Evolutionary Conserved Regulation of HIF-1β by NF-κB 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(1):e1001285.
Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1 (HIF-1) is essential for mammalian development and is the principal transcription factor activated by low oxygen tensions. HIF-α subunit quantities and their associated activity are regulated in a post-translational manner, through the concerted action of a class of enzymes called Prolyl Hydroxylases (PHDs) and Factor Inhibiting HIF (FIH) respectively. However, alternative modes of HIF-α regulation such as translation or transcription are under-investigated, and their importance has not been firmly established. Here, we demonstrate that NF-κB regulates the HIF pathway in a significant and evolutionary conserved manner. We demonstrate that NF-κB directly regulates HIF-1β mRNA and protein. In addition, we found that NF-κB–mediated changes in HIF-1β result in modulation of HIF-2α protein. HIF-1β overexpression can rescue HIF-2α protein levels following NF-κB depletion. Significantly, NF-κB regulates HIF-1β (tango) and HIF-α (sima) levels and activity (Hph/fatiga, ImpL3/ldha) in Drosophila, both in normoxia and hypoxia, indicating an evolutionary conserved mode of regulation. These results reveal a novel mechanism of HIF regulation, with impact in the development of novel therapeutic strategies for HIF–related pathologies including ageing, ischemia, and cancer.
Author Summary
The mechanisms by which cells and organisms respond to oxygen are of extreme importance for development and also for certain pathologies such as cancer, ageing, and ischemia. These are mediated by a family of transcription factors called hypoxia inducible factor (HIF), a factor that coordinates expression of a great number of genes. Significantly, these processes are evolutionary conserved from worms to humans. It is known that regulation of HIF occurs to a great extent through protein degradation. However, other important mechanisms of HIF control are currently being investigated. In this study, we have uncovered a novel mechanism of HIF regulation that relies on the action of another transcription factor family called NF-κB. We have found that NF-κB controls the levels of HIF-1α and HIF-1β genes by direct regulation. Furthermore, through its control of HIF-1β, NF-κB indirectly controls HIF-2α. Importantly, we find that this mechanism is conserved in Drosophila and mice. These results suggest an alternative avenue for therapeutic intervention in the HIF pathway, which has important implications for many human diseases.
PMCID: PMC3029248  PMID: 21298084
7.  Cloning and expression analysis of two distinct HIF-alpha isoforms – gcHIF-1alpha and gcHIF-4alpha – from the hypoxia-tolerant grass carp, Ctenopharyngodon idellus 
Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are involved in adaptive and survival responses to hypoxic stress in mammals. In fish, very little is known about the functions of HIFs.
We have cloned and characterized two distinct HIF-alpha cDNAs – gcHIF-1alpha and gcHIF-4alpha – from the hypoxia-tolerant grass carp. The deduced gcHIF-1alpha protein is highly similar to the HIF-1alphas (57–68%) from various vertebrate species, while gcHIF-4alpha is a novel isoform, and shows an equivalent degree of amino acid identity (41–47%) to the HIF-1alpha, HIF-2alpha and HIF-3alpha proteins so far described. Parsimony analysis indicated that gcHIF-4alpha is most closely related to the HIF-3alpha proteins. Northern blot analysis showed that mRNA levels of gcHIF-1alpha and gcHIF-4alpha differ substantially under normoxic and hypoxic conditions, while Western blot studies demonstrated that the endogenous protein levels for both gcHIF-1alpha and gcHIF-4alpha are similarly responsive to hypoxia. Our findings suggest that both gcHIF-1alpha and gcHIF-4alpha are differentially regulated at the transcriptional and translational levels. HRE-luciferase reporter assays show that both proteins function as transcription activators and play distinct roles in modulating the hypoxic response in grass carp.
There are at least two distinct HIF-alpha isoforms – gcHIF-1alpha and gcHIF-4alpha – in the hypoxia-tolerant grass carp, which are differentially expressed and regulated in different fish organs in response to hypoxic stress. Overall, the results suggest that unique molecular mechanisms operate through these two HIF-alpha isoforms, which underpin the hypoxic response in the hypoxia-tolerant grass carp.
PMCID: PMC1473195  PMID: 16623959
8.  Integrity of the Prolyl Hydroxylase Domain Protein 2:Erythropoietin pathway in aging mice 
The central transcriptional response to hypoxia is mediated by the Prolyl Hydroxylase Domain protein (PHD):Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF) pathway. In this pathway, PHD prolyl hydroxylates and thereby negatively regulates the α-subunit of the transcription factor HIF (HIF-α). An important HIF target gene is that for Erythropoietin (EPO), which controls red cell mass. Recent studies have identified PHD2 as the critical PHD isoform regulating the EPO gene. Other studies have shown that the inducibility of the HIF pathway diminishes as a function of age. Thus, an important question is whether the PHD2:EPO pathway is altered in the aging. Here, we employed a mouse line with a globally-inducible Phd2 conditional knockout allele to examine the integrity of the Phd2:Epo axis in young (six to eight month old) and aging (sixteen to twenty month old) mice. We find that acute global deletion of Phd2 results in a robust erythrocytosis in both young and aging mice, with both age groups showing marked extramedullary hematopoiesis in the spleen. Epo mRNA is dramatically upregulated in the kidney, but not in the liver, in both age groups. Conversely, other Hif targets, including Vegf, Pgk1, and Phd3 are upregulated in the liver but not in the kidney in both age groups. These findings have implications for targeting this pathway in the aging.
PMCID: PMC2878925  PMID: 20400342
Erythropoietin; Prolyl Hydroxylase Domain protein; Hypoxia Inducible Factor; Prolyl hydroxylation; Gene regulation
9.  Endothelin-1 Inhibits Prolyl Hydroxylase Domain 2 to Activate Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1α in Melanoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11241.
The endothelin B receptor (ETBR) promotes tumorigenesis and melanoma progression through activation by endothelin (ET)-1, thus representing a promising therapeutic target. The stability of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α is essential for melanomagenesis and progression, and is controlled by site-specific hydroxylation carried out by HIF-prolyl hydroxylase domain (PHD) and subsequent proteosomal degradation.
Principal Findings
Here we found that in melanoma cells ET-1, ET-2, and ET-3 through ETBR, enhance the expression and activity of HIF-1α and HIF-2α that in turn regulate the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in response to ETs or hypoxia. Under normoxic conditions, ET-1 controls HIF-α stability by inhibiting its degradation, as determined by impaired degradation of a reporter gene containing the HIF-1α oxygen-dependent degradation domain encompassing the PHD-targeted prolines. In particular, ETs through ETBR markedly decrease PHD2 mRNA and protein levels and promoter activity. In addition, activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-dependent integrin linked kinase (ILK)-AKT-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is required for ETBR-mediated PHD2 inhibition, HIF-1α, HIF-2α, and VEGF expression. At functional level, PHD2 knockdown does not further increase ETs-induced in vitro tube formation of endothelial cells and melanoma cell invasiveness, demonstrating that these processes are regulated in a PHD2-dependent manner. In human primary and metastatic melanoma tissues as well as in cell lines, that express high levels of HIF-1α, ETBR expression is associated with low PHD2 levels. In melanoma xenografts, ETBR blockade by ETBR antagonist results in a concomitant reduction of tumor growth, angiogenesis, HIF-1α, and HIF-2α expression, and an increase in PHD2 levels.
In this study we identified the underlying mechanism by which ET-1, through the regulation of PHD2, controls HIF-1α stability and thereby regulates angiogenesis and melanoma cell invasion. These results further indicate that targeting ETBR may represent a potential therapeutic treatment of melanoma by impairing HIF-1α stability.
PMCID: PMC2888584  PMID: 20574527
10.  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.
PMCID: PMC419879  PMID: 15169887
11.  Zeaxanthin Inhibits Hypoxia-Induced VEGF Secretion by RPE Cells through Decreased Protein Levels of Hypoxia-Inducible Factors-1α 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:687386.
Hypoxia is the most important stimulus leading to upregulation of VEGF in the retina and this is caused by accumulation of hypoxia-inducible factors-1α (HIF-1α) protein. The effects of zeaxanthin, a natural phytochemical, on the VEGF and HIF-1α expression in the primary culture of human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells were studied. An in vitro RPE cell hypoxia model was established by placing cells under 1% oxygen pressure or by adding cobalt chloride (CoCl2) to the culture medium. RPE cells and conditioned media were collected from cultures treated with and without zeaxanthin under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. VEGF and HIF-1α protein and RNA levels were measured by ELISA kits and RT-PCR, respectively. Hypoxia caused a significant increase of VEGF expression and accumulation of HIF-1α in RPE cells. Zeaxanthin at 50–150 μM significantly inhibited the expression of VEGF and accumulation of HIF-1α protein caused by hypoxia but did not affect expression of VEGF and HIF-1α under normoxic conditions. This is the first report on the effect of zeaxanthin on VEGF and HIF-1α levels in cultured RPE cells and suggests that zeaxanthin may have potential value in the prevention and treatment of various retinal diseases associated with vascular leakage and neovascularization.
PMCID: PMC4320873
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.
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.  Epidermal or Dermal Specific Knockout of PHD-2 Enhances Wound Healing and Minimizes Ischemic Injury 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93373.
Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, part of the heterodimeric transcription factor that mediates the cellular response to hypoxia, is critical for the expression of multiple angiogenic growth factors, cell motility, and the recruitment of endothelial progenitor cells. Inhibition of the oxygen-dependent negative regulator of HIF-1α, prolyl hydroxylase domain-2 (PHD-2), leads to increased HIF-1α and mimics various cellular and physiological responses to hypoxia. The roles of PHD-2 in the epidermis and dermis have not been clearly defined in wound healing.
Epidermal and dermal specific PHD-2 knockout (KO) mice were developed in a C57BL/6J (wild type) background by crossing homozygous floxed PHD-2 mice with heterozygous K14-Cre mice and heterozygous Col1A2-Cre-ER mice to get homozygous floxed PHD-2/heterozygous K14-Cre and homozygous floxed PHD-2/heterozygous floxed Col1A2-Cre-ER mice, respectively. Ten to twelve-week-old PHD-2 KO and wild type (WT) mice were subjected to wounding and ischemic pedicle flap model. The amount of healing was grossly quantified with ImageJ software. Western blot and qRT-PCR was run on protein and RNA from primary cells cultured in vitro.
qRT-PCR demonstrated a significant decrease of PHD-2 in keratinocytes and fibroblasts derived from tissue specific KO mice relative to control mice (*p<0.05). Western blot analysis showed a significant increase in HIF-1α and VEGF protein levels in PHD-2 KO mice relative to control mice (*p<0.05). PHD-2 KO mice showed significantly accelerated wound closure relative to WT (*p<0.05). When ischemia was analyzed at day nine post-surgery in a flap model, the PHD-2 tissue specific knockout mice showed significantly more viable flaps than WT (*p<0.05).
PHD-2 plays a significant role in the rates of wound healing and response to ischemic insult in mice. Further exploration shows PHD-2 KO increases cellular levels of HIF-1α and this increase leads to the transcription of downstream angiogenic factors such as VEGF.
PMCID: PMC3973687  PMID: 24695462
14.  Aberrant Promoter CpG Methylation Is a Mechanism for Impaired PHD3 Expression in a Diverse Set of Malignant Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e14617.
The prolyl-hydroxylase domain family of enzymes (PHD1-3) plays an important role in the cellular response to hypoxia by negatively regulating HIF-α proteins. Disruption of this process can lead to up-regulation of factors that promote tumorigenesis. We observed decreased basal expression of PHD3 in prostate cancer tissue and tumor cell lines representing diverse tissues of origin. Furthermore, some cancer lines displayed a failure of PHD3 mRNA induction when introduced to a hypoxic environment. This study explores the mechanism by which malignancies neither basally express PHD3 nor induce PHD3 under hypoxic conditions.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using bisulfite sequencing and methylated DNA enrichment procedures, we identified human PHD3 promoter hypermethylation in prostate, breast, melanoma and renal carcinoma cell lines. In contrast, non-transformed human prostate and breast epithelial cell lines contained PHD3 CpG islands that were unmethylated and responded normally to hypoxia by upregulating PHD3 mRNA. Only treatment of cells lines containing PHD3 promoter hypermethylation with the demethylating drug 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine significantly increased the expression of PHD3.
We conclude that expression of PHD3 is silenced by aberrant CpG methylation of the PHD3 promoter in a subset of human carcinoma cell lines of diverse origin and that this aberrant cytosine methylation status is the mechanism by which these cancer cell lines fail to upregulate PHD3 mRNA. We further show that a loss of PHD3 expression does not correlate with an increase in HIF-1α protein levels or an increase in the transcriptional activity of HIF, suggesting that loss of PHD3 may convey a selective advantage in some cancers by affecting pathway(s) other than HIF.
PMCID: PMC3030558  PMID: 21297970
15.  Effects of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α silencing on the proliferation of CBRH-7919 hepatoma cells 
AIM: To study the effects of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) silencing on the proliferation of hypoxic CBRH-7919 rat hepatoma cells.
METHODS: The CBRH-7919 rat hepatoma cell line was used in this study and the hypoxic model was constructed using CoCl2. The HIF-1α-specific RNAi sequences were designed according to the gene coding sequence of rat HIF-1α obtained from GeneBank. The secondary structure of the HIF-1α gene sequence was analyzed using RNA draw software. The small interfering RNA (siRNA) transfection mixture was produced by mixing the siRNA and Lipofectamine2000TM, and transfected into the hypoxic hepatoma cells. Real time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blotting assay were used to detect the expression levels of mRNA and protein. HIF-1α and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) mRNA was determined using real time RT-PCR; the protein expression levels of AKT, p-AKT, p21 and cyclinD1 were determined using Western blotting. The proliferation of hepatoma cells was observed using the methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium (MTT) assay and the bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation cell proliferation assay.
RESULTS: Under induced hypoxia, the viability of the hepatoma cells reached a minimum at 800 μmol/L CoCl2; the viability of the cells was relatively high at CoCl2 concentrations between 100 μmol/L and 200 μmol/L. Under hypoxia, the mRNA and protein expression levels of HIF-1α and VEGF were significantly higher than that of hepatoma cells that were cultured in normaxia. HIF-1α-specific RNAi sequences were successfully transfected into hepatoma cells. The transfection of specific siRNAs significantly inhibited the mRNA and protein expression levels of HIF-1α and VEGF, along with the protein expression levels of p-AKT and cyclinD1; the protein expression of p21 was significantly increased, and there was no significant difference in the expression of AKT. The MTT assay showed that the amount of hepatoma cells in S phase in the siRNA transfection group was obviously smaller than that in the control group; in the siRNA transfection group, the amount of hepatoma cells in G1 phase was more than that in the control group. The BrdU incorporation assay showed that the number of BrdU positive hepatoma cells in the siRNA transfection group was less than that in the control group. The data of the MTT assay and BrdU incorporation assay suggested that HIF-1α silencing using siRNAs significantly inhibited the proliferation of hepatoma cells.
CONCLUSION: Hypoxia increases the expression of HIF-1α, and HIF-1α silencing significantly inhibits the proliferation of hypoxic CBRH-7919 rat hepatoma cells.
PMCID: PMC3607751  PMID: 23555163
RNA interference; Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α; Vascular endothelial growth factor; Protein kinase B; CBRH-7919 hepatoma cells
16.  Upregulation of miRNA3195 and miRNA374b Mediates the Anti-Angiogenic Properties of Melatonin in Hypoxic PC-3 Prostate Cancer Cells 
Journal of Cancer  2015;6(1):19-28.
Recently microRNAs (miRNAs) have been attractive targets with their key roles in biological regulation through post-transcription to control mRNA stability and protein translation. Though melatonin was known as an anti-angiogenic agent, the underlying mechanism of melatonin in PC-3 prostate cancer cells under hypoxia still remains unclear. Thus, in the current study, we elucidated the important roles of miRNAs in melatonin-induced anti-angiogenic activity in hypoxic PC-3 cells. miRNA array revealed that 33 miRNAs (>2 folds) including miRNA3195 and miRNA 374b were significantly upregulated and 16 miRNAs were downregulated in melatonin-treated PC-3 cells under hypoxia compared to untreated control. Melatonin significantly attenuated the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1 alpha, HIF-2 alpha and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) at mRNA level in hypoxic PC-3 cells. Consistently, melatonin enhanced the expression of miRNA3195 and miRNA 374b in hypoxic PC-3 cells by qRT-PCR analysis. Of note, overexpression of miRNA3195 and miRNA374b mimics attenuated the mRNA levels of angiogenesis related genes such as HIF-1alpha, HIF-2 alpha and VEGF in PC-3 cells under hypoxia. Furthermore, overexpression of miRNA3195 and miRNA374b suppressed typical angiogenic protein VEGF at the protein level and VEGF production induced by melatonin, while antisense oligonucleotides against miRNA 3195 or miRNA 374b did not affect VEGF production induced by melatonin. Also, overexpression of miR3195 or miR374b reduced HIF-1 alpha immunofluorescent expression in hypoxic PC-3 compared to untreated control. Overall, our findings suggest that upregulation of miRNA3195 and miRNA374b mediates anti-angiogenic property induced by melatonin in hypoxic PC-3 cells.
PMCID: PMC4278911  PMID: 25553085
melatonin; miRNA3195; miRNA374b; VEGF; HIF-1 alpha; PC-3 cells.
17.  Prolyl hydroxylase 2 dependent and Von-Hippel-Lindau independent degradation of Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 and 2 alpha by selenium in clear cell renal cell carcinoma leads to tumor growth inhibition 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:293.
Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) accounts for more than 80% of the cases of renal cell carcinoma. In ccRCC deactivation of Von-Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene contributes to the constitutive expression of hypoxia inducible factors 1 and 2 alpha (HIF-α), transcriptional regulators of several genes involved in tumor angiogenesis, glycolysis and drug resistance. We have demonstrated inhibition of HIF-1α by Se-Methylselenocysteine (MSC) via stabilization of prolyl hydroxylases 2 and 3 (PHDs) and a significant therapeutic synergy when combined with chemotherapy. This study was initiated to investigate the expression of PHDs, HIF-α, and VEGF-A in selected solid cancers, the mechanism of HIF-α inhibition by MSC, and to document antitumor activity of MSC against human ccRCC xenografts.
Tissue microarrays of primary human cancer specimens (ccRCC, head & neck and colon) were utilized to determine the incidence of PHD2/3, HIF-α, and VEGF-A by immunohistochemical methods. To investigate the mechanism(s) of HIF-α inhibition by MSC, VHL mutated ccRCC cells RC2 (HIF-1α positive), 786–0 (HIF-2α positive) and VHL wild type head & neck cancer cells FaDu (HIF-1α) were utilized. PHD2 and VHL gene specific siRNA knockdown and inhibitors of PHD2 and proteasome were used to determine their role in the degradation of HIF-1α by MSC.
We have demonstrated that ccRCC cells express low incidence of PHD2 (32%), undetectable PHD3, high incidence of HIF-α (92%), and low incidence of VEGF-A compared to head & neck and colon cancers. This laboratory was the first to identify MSC as a highly effective inhibitor of constitutively expressed HIF-α in ccRCC tumors. MSC did not inhibit HIF-1α protein synthesis, but facilitated its degradation. The use of gene knockdown and specific inhibitors confirmed that the inhibition of HIF-1α was PHD2 and proteasome dependent and VHL independent. The effects of MSC treatment on HIF-α were associated with significant antitumor activity against ccRCC xenograft.
Our results show the role of PHD2/3 in stable expression of HIF-α in human ccRCC. Furthermore, HIF-1α degradation by MSC is achieved through PHD2 dependent and VHL independent pathway which is unique for HIF-α regulation. These data provide the basis for combining MSC with currently used agents for ccRCC.
PMCID: PMC3466155  PMID: 22804960
Prolyl hydroxylases; Hypoxia-inducible factor; Clear cell renal cell carcinoma; Selenium
18.  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.
PMCID: PMC3937633  PMID: 24394419
Cell Death; Hypoxia; Hypoxia-inducible Factor; Imaging; Mathematical Modeling; Negative Feedback Loop; p53; Prolyl Hydroxylase
19.  Bcl-2 Regulates HIF-1α Protein Stabilization in Hypoxic Melanoma Cells via the Molecular Chaperone HSP90 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11772.
Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 (HIF-1) is a transcription factor that is a critical mediator of the cellular response to hypoxia. Enhanced levels of HIF-1α, the oxygen-regulated subunit of HIF-1, is often associated with increased tumour angiogenesis, metastasis, therapeutic resistance and poor prognosis. It is in this context that we previously demonstrated that under hypoxia, bcl-2 protein promotes HIF-1/Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF)-mediated tumour angiogenesis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
By using human melanoma cell lines and their stable or transient derivative bcl-2 overexpressing cells, the current study identified HIF-1α protein stabilization as a key regulator for the induction of HIF-1 by bcl-2 under hypoxia. We also demonstrated that bcl-2-induced accumulation of HIF-1α protein during hypoxia was not due to an increased gene transcription or protein synthesis. In fact, it was related to a modulation of HIF-1α protein expression at a post-translational level, indeed its degradation rate was faster in the control lines than in bcl-2 transfectants. The bcl-2-induced HIF-1α stabilization in response to low oxygen tension conditions was achieved through the impairment of ubiquitin-dependent HIF-1α degradation involving the molecular chaperone HSP90, but it was not dependent on the prolyl hydroxylation of HIF-1α protein. We also showed that bcl-2, HIF-1α and HSP90 proteins form a tri-complex that may contribute to enhancing the stability of the HIF-1α protein in bcl-2 overexpressing clones under hypoxic conditions. Finally, by using genetic and pharmacological approaches we proved that HSP90 is involved in bcl-2-dependent stabilization of HIF-1α protein during hypoxia, and in particular the isoform HSP90β is the main player in this phenomenon.
We identified the stabilization of HIF-1α protein as a mechanism through which bcl-2 induces the activation of HIF-1 in hypoxic tumour cells involving the β isoform of molecular chaperone HSP90.
PMCID: PMC2910721  PMID: 20668552
20.  Differential effects of Th1 versus Th2 cytokines in combination with hypoxia on HIFs and angiogenesis in RA 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(4):R180.
Hypoxia and T-helper cell 1 (Th1) cytokine-driven inflammation are key features of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and contribute to disease pathogenesis by promoting angiogenesis. The objective of our study was to characterise the angiogenic gene signature of RA fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) in response to hypoxia, as well as Th1 and T-helper cell 2 (Th2) cytokines, and in particular to dissect out effects of combined hypoxia and cytokines on hypoxia inducible transcription factors (HIFs) and angiogenesis.
Human angiogenesis PCR arrays were used to screen cDNA from RA FLS exposed to hypoxia (1% oxygen) or dimethyloxalylglycine, which stabilises HIFs. The involvement of HIF isoforms in generating the angiogenic signature of RA FLS stimulated with hypoxia and/or cytokines was investigated using a DNA-binding assay and RNA interference. The angiogenic potential of conditioned media from hypoxia-treated and/or cytokine-treated RA FLS was measured using an in vitro endothelial-based assay.
Expression of 12 angiogenic genes was significantly altered in RA FLS exposed to hypoxia, and seven of these were changed by dimethyloxalylglycine, including ephrin A3 (EFNA3), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), adipokines angiopoietin-like (ANGPTL)-4 and leptin. These four proangiogenic genes were dependent on HIF-1 in hypoxia to various degrees: EFNA3 >ANGPTL-4 >VEGF >leptin. The Th1 cytokines TNFα and IL-1β induced HIF-1 but not HIF-2 transcription as well as activity, and this effect was additive with hypoxia. In contrast, Th2 cytokines had no effect on HIFs. IL-1β synergised with hypoxia to upregulate EFNA3 and VEGF in a HIF-1-dependent fashion but, despite strongly inducing HIF-1, TNFα suppressed adipokine expression and had minimal effect on EFNA3. Supernatants from RA FLS subjected to hypoxia and TNFα induced fewer endothelial tubules than those from FLS subjected to TNFα or hypoxia alone, despite high VEGF protein levels. The Th2 cytokine IL-4 strongly induced ANGPTL-4 and angiogenesis by normoxic FLS and synergised with hypoxia to induce further proangiogenic activity.
The present work demonstrates that Th1 cytokines in combination with hypoxia are not sufficient to induce angiogenic activity by RA FLS despite HIF-1 activation and VEGF production. In contrast, Th2 cytokines induce angiogenic activity in normoxia and hypoxia, despite their inability to activate HIFs, highlighting the complex relationships between hypoxia, angiogenesis and inflammation in RA.
PMCID: PMC3580575  PMID: 22866899
21.  IFN-α Induces Transcription of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1α to Inhibit Proliferation of Human Endothelial Cells1 
Expression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, a transcription factor subunit increased by protein stabilization in response to hypoxia, is increased in human endothelial cells (ECs) by IFN-α under normoxic conditions. IFN-α increases HIF-1α transcript levels within 2 h by up to 50% and doubles HIF-1α protein expression. Based on pharmacological inhibition studies, the increase in HIF-1α mRNA involves new transcription, is independent of new protein synthesis, and requires JAK signaling. Protein knockdown by small interfering RNA confirms the involvement of JAK1 and TYK2, as well of IFN-stimulated gene factor 3 (ISGF3). IFN-γ does not significantly induce HIF-1α mRNA, but increases the magnitude and duration of the IFN-α effect. IFN-α-induced HIF-1α protein translocates to the nucleus and can bind to hypoxia response elements in DNA. However, IFN-α treatment fails to induce transcription of several prototypic HIF-responsive genes (VEGF-A, PPARγ, and prostacyclin synthase) due to an insufficient increase in HIF-1α protein levels. Although certain other HIF-responsive genes (PHD3 and VEGF-C) are induced following IFN-α and/or IFN-γ treatment, these responses are not inhibited by siRNA knockdown of HIF-1α. Additionally, IFN-α induction of ISGF3-dependent genes involved in innate immunity (viperin, OAS2, and CXCL10) are also unaffected by knockdown of HIF-1α. Interestingly, knockdown of HIF-1α significantly reduces the capacity of IFN-α to inhibit endothelial cell proliferation. We conclude that IFN-α induces the transcription of HIF-1α in human endothelial cells though a JAK-ISGF3 pathway under normoxic conditions, and that this response contributes to the antiproliferative activity of this cytokine.
PMCID: PMC2737178  PMID: 18606657
22.  Physical and Functional Interactions between Runx2 and HIF-1α Induce Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Gene Expression 
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2011;112(12):3582-3593.
Angiogenesis and bone formation are intimately related processes. Hypoxia during early bone development stabilizes hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and increases angiogenic signals including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Furthermore, stabilization of HIF-1α by genetic or chemical means stimulates bone formation. On the other hand, deficiency of Runx2, a key osteogenic transcription factor, prevents vascular invasion of bone and VEGF expression. This study explores the possibility that HIF-1α and Runx2 interact to activate angiogenic signals. Runx2 over-expression in mesenchymal cells increased VEGF mRNA and protein under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. In normoxia, Runx2 also dramatically increased HIF-1α protein. In all cases, the Runx2 response was inhibited by siRNA-mediated suppression of HIF-1α and completely blocked by the HIF-1α inhibitor, echinomycin. Similarly, treatment of preosteoblast cells with Runx2 siRNA reduced VEGF mRNA in normoxia or hypoxia. However, Runx2 is not essential for the HIF-1α response since VEGF is induced by hypoxia even in Runx2-null cells. Endogenous Runx2 and HIF-1α were colocalized to the nuclei of MC3T3-E1 preosteoblast cells. Moreover, HIF-1α and Runx2 physically interact using sites within the Runx2 RUNT domain. Chromatin immunoprecipitation also provided evidence for colocalization of Runx2 and HIF-1α on the VEGF promoter. In addition, Runx2 stimulated HIF-1α-dependent activation of an HRE-luciferase reporter gene without requiring a separate Runx2-binding enhancer. These studies indicate that Runx2 functions together with HIF-1α to stimulate angiogenic gene expression in bone cells and may in part explain the known requirement for Runx2 in bone vascularization.
PMCID: PMC3202060  PMID: 21793044
Osteoblast; vascularization; angiogenesis; transcriptional factors; hypoxia
23.  Disulfiram deregulates HIF-α subunits and blunts tumor adaptation to hypoxia in hepatoma cells 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2013;34(9):1208-1216.
Disulfiram is an aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitor that was used to treat alcoholism and showed anticancer activity, but its anticancer mechanism remains unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of disulfiram on the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-driven tumor adaptation to hypoxia in vitro.
Hep3B, Huh7 and HepG2 hepatoma cells were incubated under normoxic (20% O2) or hypoxic (1% O2) conditions for 16 h. The expression and activity of HIF-1α and HIF-2α proteins were evaluated using immunoblotting and luciferase reporter assay, respectively. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR was used to analyze HIF-mediated gene expression. Endothelial tubule formation assay was used to evaluate the anti-angiogenic effect.
Hypoxia caused marked expression of HIF-1α and HIF-1α in the 3 hepatoma cell lines, dramatically increased HIF activity and induced the expression of HIF downstream genes (EPO, CA9, VEGF-A and PDK1) in Hep3B cells. HIF-2α expression was positively correlated with the induction of hypoxic genes (CA9, VEGF-A and PDK1). Moreover, hypoxia markedly increased VEGF production and angiogenic potential of Hep3B cells. Disulfiram (0.3 to 2 μmol/L) inhibited hypoxia-induced gene expression and HIF activity in a dose-dependent manner. Disulfiram more effectively suppressed the viability of Hep3B cells under hypoxia, but it did not affect the cell cycle. Overexpression of HIF-2α in Hep3B cells reversed the inhibitory effects of disulfiram on hypoxia-induced gene expression and cell survival under hypoxia.
Disulfiram deregulates the HIF-mediated hypoxic signaling pathway in hepatoma cells, which may contribute to its anticancer effect. Thus, disulfiram could be used to treat solid tumors that grow in a HIF-dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC4003155  PMID: 23852087
disulfiram; hepatoma; hypoxia; HIF-2; VEGF; angiogenesis
24.  HIF-1α induced-VEGF over-expression in bone marrow stem cells protects cardiomyocytes against ischemia 
Hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is a proangiogenic transcription factor stabilized and activated under hypoxia. It regulates the expression of numerous target genes, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and other cytoprotective proteins. In this study, we hypothesized that bone marrow stem cells (BMSCs) secrete growth factors which protect cardiomyocytes via HIF-1α pathway.
BMSCs were obtained from transgenic mice overexpressing green fluorescent protein (GFP). The study was carried out in vitro using co-culture of BMSCs with cardiomyocytes. LDH release, MTT uptake, DNA fragmentation and annexin-V positive cells were used as cell injury markers. The level of HIF-1α protein as well as its activated form and VEGF were measured by ELISA. The expression of HIF-1α and VEGF in BMSCs were analyzed by quantitative PCR and cellular localization was determined by immunohistochemistry.
LDH release was increased and MTT uptake was decreased after exposure of cardiomyocytes to hypoxia for 24 hours, which were prevented by co-culturing cardiomyocytes with BMSCs. Cardiomyocyte apoptosis induced by hypoxia and H2O2 was also reduced by co-culture with BMSCs. VEGF release from BMSCs was significantly increased in parallel with high level of HIF-1α in BMSCs following anoxia or hypoxia in time-dependent manner. Although no significant up-regulation could be seen in HIF-1α mRNA, HIF-1α protein and its activated form were markedly increased and translocated to the nucleus or peri-nuclear area. The increase and translocation of HIF-1α in BMSCs were completely blocked by 2-methoxyestradiol (2-ME2; 5μmol), a HIF-1α inhibitor. Moreover, the protection of cardiomyocytes by BMSC and VEGF secretion were abolished by neutralizing HIF-1α antibodies in a concentration dependent manner (200~ 3200ng/ml).
Bone marrow stem cells protect cardiomyocytes by up-regulation of VEGF via activating HIF-1α.
PMCID: PMC1995444  PMID: 17498737
bone marrow stem cells; HIF-1α; VEGF; cardiomyocytes; hypoxia; HIF-1α neutralizing antibody
25.  Stabilization of HIF-2α induces sVEGFR-1 production from tumor-associated macrophages and decreases tumor growth in a murine melanoma model1 
Macrophage secretion of VEGF in response to hypoxia contributes to tumor growth and angiogenesis. In addition to VEGF, hypoxic macrophages stimulated with GM-CSF secrete high levels of a soluble form of the VEGF receptor (sVEGFR-1), which neutralizes VEGF and inhibits its biological activity. Using mice with a monocyte/macrophage-selective deletion of HIF-1α or HIF-2α, we recently demonstrated that the anti-tumor response to GM-CSF was dependent on HIF-2α-driven sVEGFR-1 production by tumor-associated macrophages, while HIF-1α specifically regulated VEGF production. We therefore hypothesized that chemical stabilization of HIF-2α using an inhibitor of prolyl hydroxylase 3 (PHD3; an upstream inhibitor of HIF-2α activation) would increase sVEGFR-1 production from GM-CSF-stimulated macrophages. Treatment of macrophages with the PHD3 inhibitor AKB-6899 stabilized HIF-2α and increased sVEGFR-1 production from GM-CSF-treated macrophages, with no effect on HIF-1α accumulation or VEGF production. Treatment of B16F10 melanoma-bearing mice with GM-CSF and AKB-6899 significantly reduced tumor growth compared to either drug alone. Increased levels of sVEGFR-1 mRNA, but not VEGF mRNA, were detected within the tumors of GM-CSF- and AKB-6899-treated mice, correlating with decreased tumor vascularity. Finally, the anti-tumor and anti-angiogenic effects of AKB-6899 were abrogated when mice were simultaneously treated with a sVEGFR-1 neutralizing antibody. These results demonstrate that AKB-6899 decreases tumor growth and angiogenesis in response to GM-CSF by increasing sVEGFR-1 production from tumor-associated macrophages. Specific activation of HIF-2α can therefore decrease tumor growth and angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3436995  PMID: 22869907

Results 1-25 (1191083)