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1.  Myc post-transcriptionally induces HIF1 protein and target gene expression in normal and cancer cells 
Cancer Research  2011;72(4):949-957.
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.
PMCID: PMC3288382  PMID: 22186139
2.  Blockade of VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 Enhances Paclitaxel Sensitivity in Gastric Cancer Cells 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2013;54(2):374-380.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) increases transcription of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene. Inhibition of VEGF abolishes VEGF mediated induction of HIF-1α. Recent reports suggested that HIF-1α also mediated the induction of class III β-tubulin (TUBB3) in hypoxia. TUBB3 confers resistance to taxanes. Inhibition of VEGF may decrease the expression of HIF-1α and TUBB3. This study was undertaken to investigate the roles of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) in gastric cancer cell behavior and to identify methods to overcome paclitaxel resistance in vitro.
Materials and Methods
The protein expression levels of HIF-1α and TUBB3 were measured in human gastric cancer cell lines (AGS) under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. The relationship between TUBB3 and paclitaxel resistance was assessed with small interfering TUBB3 RNA. AGS cells were treated with anti-VEGFR-1, anti-VEGFR-2, placental growth factor (PlGF), bevacizuamb, and paclitaxel.
Hypoxia induced paclitaxel resistance was decreased by knockdown of TUBB3. Induction of HIF-1α and TUBB3 in AGS is VEGFR-1 mediated and PlGF dependent. Hypoxia-dependent upregulation of HIF-1α and TUBB3 was reduced in response to paclitaxel treatment. Expressions of HIF-1α and TUBB3 were most decreased when AGS cells were treated with a combination of paclitaxel and anti-VEGFR-1. AGS cell cytotoxicity was most increased in response to paclitaxel, anti-VEGFR-1, and anti-VEGFR-2.
We suggest that blockade of VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 enhances paclitaxel sensitivity in TUBB3-expressing gastric cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3575962  PMID: 23364970
Vascular endothelial growth factor; Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha; class III beta-tubulin; paclitaxel
3.  The real face of HIF1α in the tumor process 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(21):3932-3936.
It is well known that the hypoxia-inducible factor 1 α (HIF1α) is detectable as adaptive metabolic response to hypoxia. However, HIF1/HIF1α is detectable even under normoxic conditions, if the metabolism is altered, e.g., high proliferation index. Importantly, both hypoxic metabolism and the Warburg effect have in common a decrease of the intracellular pH value.
In our interpretation, HIF1α is not directly accumulated by hypoxia, but by a process which occurs always under hypoxic conditions, a decrease of the intracellular pH value because of metabolic imbalances. We assume that HIF1α is a sensitive controller of the intracellular pH value independently of the oxygen concentration. Moreover, HIF1α has its major role in activating genes to eliminate toxic metabolic waste products (e.g., NH3/NH4+) generated by the tumor-specific metabolism called glutaminolysis, which occur during hypoxia, or the Warburg effect. For that reason, HIF1α appears as a potential target for tumor therapy to disturb the pH balance and to inhibit the elimination of toxic metabolic waste products in the tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC3507488  PMID: 22987151
HIF1α; Warburg effect; ammonium; glutaminolysis; hypoxia; metabolism; normoxia; tumor
4.  HIF-1α knockdown by miRNA decreases survivin expression and inhibits A549 cell growth in vitro and in vivo 
The present study examined the downregulation of survivin expression by hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) miRNA and its effect in the inhibition of A549 cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Survivin expression, apoptosis, proliferation and migration under normoxic and hypoxic conditions were assessed by standard methods. Cotransfection and chromatin immunoprecipitation were used to observe the effects of HIF-1α on survivin transcription. HIF-1α knockdown in A549 cells were injected into nude mice to examine survivin expression and suppression of tumorigenicity. Transfection of A549 cells with HIF-1α miRNA led to decreased expression of HIF-1α and survivin mRNA and protein. Survivin overexpression is mediated by HIF-1α by direct binding to a putative binding site in the survivin core promoter. HIF-1α-miRNA induced apoptosis and inhibited proliferation of A549 cells under hypoxic, but not normoxic, conditions, whereas transfection by survivin expression vectors partly rescued the apoptotic phenotype and revived cell proliferation under hypoxic conditions. However, cell migration was substantially suppressed by HIF-1α silencing under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. After A549 cells were xenografted in nude mice, survivin expression in mice treated with HIF-1α miRNA was downregulated, and tumor growth was significantly inhibited. Silenced HIF-1α gene expression induced apoptosis and suppressed growth of A549 cells by downregulating survivin expression in vitro and in vivo. Our results also provide a basis to target the HIF-1α pathway in lung cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3776716  PMID: 23732337
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α; miRNA; survivin; lung cancer
5.  Effects of HIF-1 inhibition by chetomin on hypoxia-related transcription and radiosensitivity in HT 1080 human fibrosarcoma cells 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:213.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) overexpression has been linked to tumor progression and poor prognosis. We investigated whether targeting of HIF-1 using chetomin, a disrupter of the interaction of HIF-1 with the transcriptional coactivator p300, influences the radiosensitivity of hypoxic HT 1080 human fibrosarcoma cells.
Optimal dose of chetomin was determined by EGFP-HRE gene reporter assay in stably transfected HT 1080 cells. Cells were assayed for expression of the hypoxia-inducible genes carbonic anhydrase 9 (CA9) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) by RT-PCR and for clonogenic survival after irradiation with 2, 5 or 10 Gy, under normoxic or hypoxic (0.1% O2, 12 h) conditions in the presence or absence of chetomin (150 nM, 12 h, pre-treatment of 4 h).
Chetomin treatment significantly reduced CA9 and VEGF mRNA expression in hypoxic cells to 44.4 ± 7.2% and 39.6 ± 16.0%, respectively, of untreated hypoxic controls. Chetomin clearly reduced the modified oxygen enhancement ratio (OER') compared to untreated cells, from 2.02 to 1.27, from 1.86 to 1.22 and from 1.49 to 1.06 at the 50%, 37% and 10% clonogenic survival levels, respectively.
HIF-1 inhibition by chetomin effectively reduces hypoxia-dependent transcription and radiosensitizes hypoxic HT 1080 human fibrosarcoma cells in vitro.
PMCID: PMC2200672  PMID: 17999771
6.  HIF-1α Confers Aggressive Malignant Traits on Human Tumor Cells Independent of Its Canonical Transcriptional Function 
Cancer research  2011;71(4):1244-1252.
Hypoxia is known to favor tumor survival and progression. Numerous studies have shown that hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α), an oxygen-sensitive transcription factor, is overexpressed in various types of human cancers and upregulates a battery of hypoxia-responsive genes for the growth and survival of cancer cells. Although tumor progression involves the acquisition of genetic and/or epigenetic changes that confer additional malignant traits, the underlying mechanisms of these changes remain obscure. We recently identified an alternative mechanism of HIF-1α function by which HIF-1α suppresses DNA repair by counteracting c-Myc transcriptional activity that maintains gene expression. Here we demonstrate that this HIF-α–c-Myc pathway plays an essential role in mediating hypoxic effects on malignant progression via genetic alterations, resulting in formation of malignant tumors with aggressive local invasion and epithelial–mesenchymal transition. We show an absolute requirement of the HIF-α–c-Myc pathway for malignant progression, whereas the canonical transcription function of HIF-1α alone is insufficient and seemingly dispensable. This study indicates that HIF-1α induction of genetic alteration is the underlying cause of tumor progression especially by the hypoxic microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3041864  PMID: 21303984
epithelial–mesenchymal transition; genetic alteration; hypoxia; tumorigenicity; tumor progression
7.  A common polymorphism in the oxygen-dependent degradation (ODD) domain of hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) does not impair Pro-564 hydroxylation 
Molecular Cancer  2003;2:31.
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.
PMCID: PMC212228  PMID: 14521712
8.  Hypoxia-Induced Gene Expression Occurs Solely through the Action of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1α (HIF-1α): Role of Cytoplasmic Trapping of HIF-2α 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(14):4959-4971.
The hypoxia-inducible factors 1α (HIF-1α) and 2α (HIF-2α) have extensive structural homology and have been identified as key transcription factors responsible for gene expression in response to hypoxia. They play critical roles not only in normal development, but also in tumor progression. Here we report on the differential regulation of protein expression and transcriptional activity of HIF-1α and -2α by hypoxia in immortalized mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs). We show that oxygen-dependent protein degradation is restricted to HIF-1α, as HIF-2α protein is detected in MEFs regardless of oxygenation and is localized primarily to the cytoplasm. Endogenous HIF-2α remained transcriptionally inactive under hypoxic conditions; however, ectopically overexpressed HIF-2α translocated into the nucleus and could stimulate expression of hypoxia-inducible genes. We show that the factor inhibiting HIF-1 can selectively inhibit the transcriptional activity of HIF-1α but has no effect on HIF-2α-mediated transcription in MEFs. We propose that HIF-2α is not a redundant transcription factor of HIF-1α for hypoxia-induced gene expression and show evidence that there is a cell type-specific modulator(s) that enables selective activation of HIF-1α but not HIF-2α in response to low-oxygen stress.
PMCID: PMC162224  PMID: 12832481
9.  Hypoxia-inducible factor 2α regulates macrophage function in mouse models of acute and tumor inflammation 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2010;120(8):2699-2714.
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.
PMCID: PMC2912179  PMID: 20644254
10.  Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 and Dysregulated c-Myc Cooperatively Induce Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor and Metabolic Switches Hexokinase 2 and Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Kinase 1▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(21):7381-7393.
Hypoxia is a pervasive microenvironmental factor that affects normal development as well as tumor progression. In most normal cells, hypoxia stabilizes hypoxia-inducible transcription factors (HIFs), particularly HIF-1, which activates genes involved in anaerobic metabolism and angiogenesis. As hypoxia signals a cellular deprivation state, HIF-1 has also been reported to counter the activity of MYC, which encodes a transcription factor that drives cell growth and proliferation. Since many human cancers express dysregulated MYC, we sought to determine whether HIF-1 would in fact collaborate with dysregulated MYC rather countering its function. Here, using the P493-6 Burkitt's lymphoma model with an inducible MYC, we demonstrate that HIF-1 cooperates with dysregulated c-Myc to promote glycolysis by induction of hexokinase 2, which catalyzes the first step of glycolysis, and pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1, which inactivates pyruvate dehydrogenase and diminishes mitochondrial respiration. We also found the collaborative induction of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) by HIF-1 and dysregulated c-Myc. This study reports the previously unsuspected collaboration between HIF-1 and dysregulated MYC and thereby provides additional insights into the regulation of VEGF and the Warburg effect, which describes the propensity for cancer cells to convert glucose to lactate.
PMCID: PMC2169056  PMID: 17785433
11.  Effects of oxygen tension and IGF-I on HIF-1α protein expression in mouse blastocysts 
Hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) are key regulators of oxygen homeostasis in response to reduced oxygenation in somatic cells. In addition, HIF-1α protein can be also induced by insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) treatment in various cell lines under normoxic condition. However, the expression and function of HIF-1α in embryogenesis are still unclear. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to examine the expression of HIF-1α in mouse blastocysts cultured under hypoxic and normoxic conditions, and to determine whether oxygen tension and IGF-I influence embryonic development through stimulation of HIF-1α expression.
Mouse embryos were cultured from the 1-cell to blastocyst stage under 5 % or 20 % O2 in both the absence and presence of IGF-I.
The embryonic development rates to the blastocyst stage were not affected by oxygen tension or IGF-I treatment. HIF-1α protein was localized to the cytoplasm of blastocysts, and its levels were independent of oxygen concentration or IGF-I treatment. Blastocysts cultured under 5 % O2 exhibited significantly higher total cell numbers (83.4 ± 18.1) and lower apoptotic index (3.7 ± 1.5) than those cultured under 20 % O2 (67.4 ± 15.6) (6.9 ± 3.5) (P < 0.05). IGF-I reduced the apoptotic index in both oxygen conditions, but a significant decrease was detected in the 20 % O2 group.
HIF-1α may not be a major mediator that responds to change in oxygen tension within blastocysts, inconsistent with that of somatic cells. Supplementation of culture media with IGF-I has been shown to promote embryo development by an anti-apoptotic effect, instead of increasing HIF-1α protein expression.
PMCID: PMC3553358  PMID: 23232974
HIF-1; IGF-I; Embryo development; Low oxygen tension
12.  Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay for Pharmacological Studies Targeting Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1α 
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) activates the transcription of a wide range of genes related to oxygen delivery and metabolic adaptation under hypoxic (low-oxygen) conditions. HIF-1 is, in fact, a heterodimer of two subunits, HIF-1α and HIF-1β. The only analytical methods available for measuring HIF-1α levels in tumors are immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. Immunohistochemistry has the advantage of allowing the identification and direct examination of HIF-1α-expressing cells, but has the intrinsic limitation, as for Western blotting, of being nonquantitative. We developed and validated an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) approach to measure HIF-1α levels in cultured tumor cell lines in vitro. HIF-1α was expressed in thirteen tumor cell lines grown under hypoxic conditions; however, the levels differed strongly between cell lines. These data point to intrinsic differences between cell lines for the induction of HIF-1α under hypoxic conditions. The ELISA developed in the present study is thus an interesting alternative to other analytical methods used to measure HIF-1α protein levels and should be useful in preclinical pharmacological studies targeting HIF-1α.
PMCID: PMC1112088  PMID: 15879029
13.  Combinatorial regulation of neuroblastoma tumor progression by N-Myc and hypoxia inducible factor HIF-1α 
Cancer research  2010;70(24):10351-10361.
In human neuroblastoma, amplification of the MYCN gene predicts poor prognosis and resistance to therapy. Because hypoxia contributes to aggressive tumor phenotypes, predominantly via two structurally related hypoxia inducible factors, HIF-1α and HIF-2α, we examined hypoxia responses in MYCN amplified neuroblastoma cells. We demonstrate here that HIF-1α, but not HIF-2α, is preferentially expressed in both MYCN amplified neuroblastoma cells and primary tumors in comparison to samples without MYCN amplification. Our results showed that interplay between N-Myc and HIF-1α plays critical roles in neuroblastoma. For example, high levels of N-Myc override HIF-1α inhibition of cell cycle progression, enabling continued proliferation under hypoxia. Furthermore, both HIF-1α and N-Myc are essential for the Warburg effect (aerobic glycolysis) in neuroblastomas by activating the transcription of multiple glycolytic genes. Of note, expression of Phosphoglycerate Kinase 1 (PGK1), Hexokinase 2 (HK2) and Lactate Dehydrogenase A (LDHA), were each significantly higher in MYCN amplified neuroblastomas compared to tumors without MYCN amplification. Interestingly, MYCN amplified neuroblastoma cells are “addicted” to LDHA enzymatic activity, as its depletion completely inhibits tumorigenesis in vivo. Thus, our results provide mechanistic insights explaining how MYCN amplified neuroblastoma cells contend with hypoxic stress and paradoxically how hypoxia contributes to neuroblastoma aggressiveness through combinatorial effects of N-Myc and HIF-1α. These results also suggest LDHA represents a novel, pharmacologically tractable target for neuroblastoma therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3005134  PMID: 20961996
N-Myc; hypoxia inducible factor; neuroblastoma; tumorigenesis; Warburg effect
14.  Differential hypoxic regulation of hypoxia-inducible factors 1α and 2α 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2011;9(6):757-765.
The hypoxia-inducible transcription factors (HIF)-1α and -2α play a critical role in cellular response to hypoxia. Elevated HIF-α expression correlates with poor patient survival in a large number of cancers. Recent evidence suggests that HIF-2α appears to be preferentially expressed in neuronal tumor cells that exhibit cancer stem cell characteristics. These observations suggest that expression of HIF-1α and -2α is differentially regulated in the hypoxic tumor microenvironment. However, the underlying mechanisms remain to be fully investigated. In this study, we investigated the transcriptional regulation HIF-1α and -2α under different physiologically relevant hypoxic conditions. We found that transcription of HIF-2α was consistently increased by hypoxia, whereas transcription of HIF-1α showed variable levels of repression. Mechanistically, differential regulation of HIF-α transcription involved hypoxia-induced changes in acetylation of core histones H3 and H4 associated with the proximal promoters of the HIF-1α or HIF-2α gene. We also found that, although highly stable under acute hypoxia, HIF-1α and HIF-2α proteins become destabilized under chronic hypoxia. Our results have thus provided new mechanistic insights into the differential regulation of HIF-1α and -2α by the hypoxic tumor microenvironment. These findings also suggest an important role of HIF-2α in the regulation of tumor progression under chronic hypoxia.
PMCID: PMC3117969  PMID: 21571835
hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible factor; HIF-1α and HIF-2α; transcription; promoter
15.  Expression and significance of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α and MDR1/P-glycoprotein in laryngeal carcinoma tissue and hypoxic Hep-2 cells 
Oncology Letters  2013;6(1):232-238.
The present study aimed to evaluate the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and MDR1/P-glycoprotein (P-gp) in human laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma (LSCC) tissues, and also to investigate the regulation of MDR1 gene expression by HIF-1α in Hep-2 cells under hypoxic conditions. The expression of HIF-1α and MDR1/P-gp in human LSCC tissues was examined using immunohistochemistry. The HIF-1α and MDR1 gene expression in the Hep-2 cells was detected using real-time quantitative reverse transcription (QRT)-PCR and western blot analysis under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. In hypoxia, HIF-1α expression was inhibited by RNA interference. HIF-1α and MDR1/P-gp expression was high in the LSCC tissues and was associated with the clinical stage and lymph node metastasis (P<0.05). HIF-1α expression was positively correlated with MDR1/P-gp expression (P<0.01). In the Hep-2 cells, HIF-1α and MDR1/P-gp expression significantly increased in response to hypoxia. The inhibition of HIF-1α expression synergistically downregulated the expression of the MDR1 gene in hypoxic Hep-2 cells. HIF-1α expression is positively correlated with MDR1/P-gp expression in LSCC, and the two proteins may be able to serve as potential biomarkers for predicting the malignant progression and metastasis of LSCC. HIF-1α may be critical for the upregulation of MDR1 gene expression induced by hypoxia in Hep-2 cells.
PMCID: PMC3742502  PMID: 23946810
hypoxia; hypoxia inducible factor-1α; multidrug resistance; p-glycoprotein; laryngeal neoplasms
16.  Nitric oxide produced endogenously is responsible for hypoxia-induced HIF-1α stabilization in colon carcinoma cells 
Chemical research in toxicology  2012;25(10):2194-2202.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) is a critical regulator of cellular responses to hypoxia. Under normoxic conditions, cellular HIF-1α level is regulated by hydroxylation by prolyl hydroxylases (PHDs), ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation. During hypoxia, degradation decreases and its intracellular level is increased. Exogenously administered nitric oxide (NO)-donor drugs stabilize HIF-1α, and thus NO is suggested to mimic hypoxia. However, the role of low levels of endogenously produced NO generated during hypoxia in HIF-1α stabilization has not been defined. Here we demonstrate that NO and reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced endogenously by human colon carcinoma HCT116 cells are responsible for HIF-1α accumulation in hypoxia. The antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) and NO synthase inhibitor NG-monomethyl L-arginine (L-NMMA) effectively reduced HIF-1α stabilization and decreased HIF-1α hydroxylation. These effects suggested that endogenous-NO and ROS impaired PHD activity, which was confirmed by reversal of L-NMMA- and NAC-mediated effects in the presence of dimethyloxaloylglycine, a PHD inhibitor. Thiol reduction with dithiothreitol decreased HIF-1α stabilization in hypoxic cells, while dinitrochlorobenzene, which stabilizes S-nitrosothiols, favored its accumulation. This suggested that ROS- and NO-mediated HIF-1α stabilization involved S-nitrosation, which was confirmed by demonstrating increased S-nitrosation of PHD2 during hypoxia. Our results support a regulatory mechanism of HIF-1α during hypoxia in which endogenously generated NO and ROS promote inhibition of PHD2 activity, probably by its S-nitrosation.
PMCID: PMC3472092  PMID: 22971010
hypoxia; nitric oxide; reactive oxygen species; HIF-1α; PHD-2; S-nitrosation
17.  Catabolic stress induces expression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α in articular chondrocytes: involvement of HIF-1α in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(4):R904-R914.
Transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1 protein accumulates and activates the transcription of genes that are of fundamental importance for oxygen homeostasis – including genes involved in energy metabolism, angiogenesis, vasomotor control, apoptosis, proliferation, and matrix production – under hypoxic conditions. We speculated that HIF-1α may have an important role in chondrocyte viability as a cell survival factor during the progression of osteoarthritis (OA). The expression of HIF-1α mRNA in human OA cartilage samples was analyzed by real-time PCR. We analyzed whether or not the catabolic factors IL-1β and H2O2 induce the expression of HIF-1α in OA chondrocytes under normoxic and hypoxic conditions (O2 <6%). We investigated the levels of energy generation, cartilage matrix production, and apoptosis induction in HIF-1α-deficient chondrocytes under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. In articular cartilages from human OA patients, the expression of HIF-1α mRNA was higher in the degenerated regions than in the intact regions. Both IL-1β and H2O2 accelerated mRNA and protein levels of HIF-1α in cultured chondrocytes. Inhibitors for phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and p38 kinase caused a significant decrease in catabolic-factor-induced HIF-1α expression. HIF-1α-deficient chondrocytes did not maintain energy generation and cartilage matrix production under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Also, HIF-1α-deficient chondrocytes showed an acceleration of catabolic stress-induced apoptosis in vitro. Our findings in human OA cartilage show that HIF-1α expression in OA cartilage is associated with the progression of articular cartilage degeneration. Catabolic-stresses, IL-1β, and oxidative stress induce the expression of HIF-1α in chondrocytes. Our results suggest an important role of stress-induced HIF-1α in the maintenance of chondrocyte viability in OA articular cartilage.
PMCID: PMC1175045  PMID: 15987493
18.  HIF1α and HIF2α: sibling rivalry in hypoxic tumor growth and progression 
Nature reviews. Cancer  2011;12(1):9-22.
Hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) are broadly expressed in human cancers, and HIF1α and HIF2α were previously suspected of promoting tumor progression through largely overlapping functions. However, this relatively simple model has now been challenged in light of recent data from genome-wide analyses of human tumors, genetically engineered mouse models of cancer, and systems biology approaches that reveal unique and sometimes opposing HIFa activities in both normal physiology and disease. These effects are mediated in part through regulation of unique target genes, as well as direct and indirect interactions with important oncoproteins and tumor suppressors, including MYC and p53. As HIF inhibitors are currently under clinical evaluation as cancer therapeutics, a more thorough understanding of unique roles performed by HIF1α and HIF2α in human neoplasia is warranted. This Review summarizes our rapidly changing understanding of shared and independent HIF1α and HIF2α activities in tumor growth and progression, and the implications for using selective HIF inhibitors as cancer therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3401912  PMID: 22169972
19.  Growth Factor-Mediated Induction of HDM2 Positively Regulates Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1α Expression 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(7):2905-2914.
The hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) transcriptional complex is regulated by cellular oxygen levels and growth factors. The phosphoinosotide 3-kinase (PI-3K)-Akt/protein kinase B (PKB) pathway has been shown to regulate HIF-1 activity in response to oncogenic signals and growth factors. We assessed whether the HDM2 oncoprotein, a direct target of Akt/PKB, could regulate HIF-1α expression and HIF-1 activity under normoxic conditions. We found that growth factor stimulation, overexpression of Akt/PKB, or loss of PTEN resulted in enhanced expression of both HIF-1α and HDM2. Growth factor-mediated induction of HIF-1α was ablated by transient expression of a dominant negative form of Akt/PKB or by treatment with LY294002. Transient expression of HDM2 led to increased expression of HIF-1α. Pulse-chase and cycloheximide experiments revealed that HDM2 did not significantly affect the half-life of HIF-1α. Growth factor-induced HIF-1α and HDM2 proteins were localized to the nucleus, and induction of both proteins was observed in both p53+/+ and p53−/− HCT116 cells to comparable levels. Importantly, insulin-like growth factor 1-induced HIF-1α expression was observed in p53-null mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) but was significantly impaired in p53 Mdm2 double-null MEFs, indicating a requirement for Mdm2 in this process. Finally, we showed that phosphorylation at Ser166 in HDM2 contributed in part to growth factor-mediated induction of HIF-1α. Our study has important implications for the role of the PI-3K-Akt/PKB-HDM2 pathway in tumor progression and angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC371114  PMID: 15024078
20.  HIF-Independent Regulation of Thioredoxin Reductase 1 Contributes to the High Levels of Reactive Oxygen Species Induced by Hypoxia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30470.
Cellular adaptation to hypoxic conditions mainly involves transcriptional changes in which hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) play a critical role. Under hypoxic conditions, HIF protein is stabilized due to inhibition of the activity of prolyl hydroxylases (EGLNs). Because the reaction carried out by these enzymes uses oxygen as a co-substrate it is generally accepted that the hypoxic inhibition of EGLNs is due to the reduction in oxygen levels. However, several studies have reported that hypoxic generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) is required for HIF stabilization. Here, we show that hypoxia downregulates thioredoxin reductase 1 (TR1) mRNA and protein levels. This hypoxic TR1 regulation is HIF independent, as HIF stabilization by EGLNs inhibitors does not affect TR1 expression and HIF deficiency does not block TR1 hypoxic-regulation, and it has an effect on TR1 function, as hypoxic conditions also reduce TR1 activity. We found that, when cultured under hypoxic conditions, TR1 deficient cells showed a larger accumulation of ROS compared to control cells, whereas TR1 over-expression was able to block the hypoxic generation of ROS. Furthermore, the changes in ROS levels observed in TR1 deficient or TR1 over-expressing cells did not affect HIF stabilization or function. These results indicate that hypoxic TR1 down-regulation is important in maintaining high levels of ROS under hypoxic conditions and that HIF stabilization and activity do not require hypoxic generation of ROS.
PMCID: PMC3278416  PMID: 22348009
21.  Regulation of hypoxia-inducible genes by ETS1 transcription factor 
Carcinogenesis  2008;29(8):1493-1499.
Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1) regulates the expression of genes that facilitate tumor cell survival by making them more resistant to therapeutic intervention. Recent evidence suggests that the activation of other transcription factors, in cooperation with HIF-1 or acting alone, is involved in the upregulation of hypoxia-inducible genes. Here we report that high cell density, a condition that might mimic the physiologic situation in growing tumor and most probably representing nutritional starvation, upregulates hypoxia-inducible genes. This upregulation can occur in HIF-independent manner since hypoxia-inducible genes carbonic anhydrase 9 (CA9), lysyloxidase like 2 (LOXL2) and n-myc-down regulated 1 (NDRG1)/calcium activated protein (Cap43) can be upregulated by increased cell density under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions in both HIF-1α-proficient and -deficient mouse fibroblasts. Moreover, cell density upregulates the same genes in 1HAEo− and A549 human lung epithelial cells. Searching for other transcription factors involved in the regulation of hypoxia-inducible genes by cell density, we focused our attention on ETS1. As reported previously, members of v-ets erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homolog (ETS) family transcription factors participate in the upregulation of hypoxia-inducible genes. Here, we provide evidence that ETS1 protein is upregulated at high cell density in both human and mouse cells. The involvement of ETS1 in the upregulation of hypoxia-inducible genes was further confirmed in a luciferase reporter assay using cotransfection of ETS1 expression vector with NDRG1/Cap43 promoter construct. The downregulation of ETS1 expression with small interfering RNA (siRNA) inhibited the upregulation of CA9 and NDRG1/Cap43 caused by increased cell density. Collectively, our data indicate the involvement of ETS1 along with HIF-1 in regulating hypoxia-inducible genes.
PMCID: PMC2516492  PMID: 18381358
22.  Regulation of hypoxia-inducible genes by ETS1 transcription factor 
Carcinogenesis  2008;29(8):1493-1499.
Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1) regulates the expression of genes that facilitate tumor cell survival by making them more resistant to therapeutic intervention. Recent evidence suggests that the activation of other transcription factors, in cooperation with HIF-1 or acting alone, is involved in the upregulation of hypoxia-inducible genes. Here we report that high cell density, a condition that might mimic the physiologic situation in growing tumor and most probably representing nutritional starvation, upregulates hypoxia-inducible genes. This upregulation can occur in HIF-independent manner since hypoxia-inducible genes carbonic anhydrase 9 (CA9), lysyloxidase like 2 (LOXL2) and n-myc-down regulated 1 (NDRG1)/calcium activated protein (Cap43) can be up-regulated by increased cell density under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions in both HIF-1α-proficient and -deficient mouse fibroblasts. Moreover, cell density upregulates the same genes in 1HAEo–and A549 human lung epithelial cells. Searching for other transcription factors involved in the regulation of hypoxiainducible genes by cell density, we focused our attention on ETS1. As reported previously,members of v-ets erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homolog (ETS) family transcription factors participate in the upregulation of hypoxia-inducible genes. Here, we provide evidence that ETS1 protein is upregulated at high cell density in both human and mouse cells. The involvement of ETS1 in the upregulation of hypoxia-inducible genes was further confirmed in a luciferase reporter assay using cotransfection of ETS1 expression vector with NDRG1/Cap43 promoter construct. The downregulation of ETS1 expression with small interfering RNA (siRNA) inhibited the upregulation of CA9 and NDRG1/Cap43 caused by increased cell density. Collectively, our data indicate the involvement of ETS1 along with HIF-1 in regulating hypoxia-inducible genes.
PMCID: PMC2516492  PMID: 18381358
23.  Expression and function of hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha in human melanoma under non-hypoxic conditions 
Molecular Cancer  2009;8:104.
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.
PMCID: PMC2781803  PMID: 19919690
24.  BAY 87-2243, a highly potent and selective inhibitor of hypoxia-induced gene activation has antitumor activities by inhibition of mitochondrial complex I 
Cancer Medicine  2013;2(5):611-624.
The activation of the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) plays an essential role in tumor development, tumor progression, and resistance to chemo- and radiotherapy. In order to identify compounds targeting the HIF pathway, a small molecule library was screened using a luciferase-driven HIF-1 reporter cell line under hypoxia. The high-throughput screening led to the identification of a class of aminoalkyl-substituted compounds that inhibited hypoxia-induced HIF-1 target gene expression in human lung cancer cell lines at low nanomolar concentrations. Lead structure BAY 87-2243 was found to inhibit HIF-1α and HIF-2α protein accumulation under hypoxic conditions in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell line H460 but had no effect on HIF-1α protein levels induced by the hypoxia mimetics desferrioxamine or cobalt chloride. BAY 87-2243 had no effect on HIF target gene expression levels in RCC4 cells lacking Von Hippel–Lindau (VHL) activity nor did the compound affect the activity of HIF prolyl hydroxylase-2. Antitumor activity of BAY 87-2243, suppression of HIF-1α protein levels, and reduction of HIF-1 target gene expression in vivo were demonstrated in a H460 xenograft model. BAY 87-2243 did not inhibit cell proliferation under standard conditions. However under glucose depletion, a condition favoring mitochondrial ATP generation as energy source, BAY 87-2243 inhibited cell proliferation in the nanomolar range. Further experiments revealed that BAY 87-2243 inhibits mitochondrial complex I activity but has no effect on complex III activity. Interference with mitochondrial function to reduce hypoxia-induced HIF-1 activity in tumors might be an interesting therapeutic approach to overcome chemo- and radiotherapy-resistance of hypoxic tumors.
PMCID: PMC3892793  PMID: 24403227
Antitumor activity; hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible factor-1; mitochondrial complex 1
25.  Passing the baton: The HIF switch 
Trends in biochemical sciences  2012;37(9):364-372.
Hypoxia is an inadequate oxygen supply to tissues and cells, which can restrict their function. The hypoxic response is primarily mediated by the hypoxia-inducible transcription factors, HIF-1 and HIF-2, which have both overlapping and unique target genes. HIF target gene activation is highly context specific and is not a reliable indicator of which HIF-α isoform is active. For example in some cell lines, the individual HIFs have specific temporal and functional roles: HIF-1 drives the initial response to hypoxia (<24 hours) and HIF-2 drives the chronic response (>24 hours). Here, we review the significance of the HIF switch and the relationship between HIF-1 and HIF-2 under both physiological and pathophysiological conditions.
PMCID: PMC3433036  PMID: 22818162
Hypoxia; HIF; development; angiogenesis; cancer; stem cells

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