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1.  Identification of small molecule compounds that inhibit the HIF-1 signaling pathway 
Molecular Cancer  2009;8:117.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is the major hypoxia-regulated transcription factor that regulates cellular responses to low oxygen environments. HIF-1 is composed of two subunits: hypoxia-inducible HIF-1α and constitutively-expressed HIF-1β. During hypoxic conditions, HIF-1α heterodimerizes with HIF-1β and translocates to the nucleus where the HIF-1 complex binds to the hypoxia-response element (HRE) and activates expression of target genes implicated in cell growth and survival. HIF-1α protein expression is elevated in many solid tumors, including those of the cervix and brain, where cells that are the greatest distance from blood vessels, and therefore the most hypoxic, express the highest levels of HIF-1α. Therapeutic blockade of the HIF-1 signaling pathway in cancer cells therefore provides an attractive strategy for development of anticancer drugs. To identify small molecule inhibitors of the HIF-1 pathway, we have developed a cell-based reporter gene assay and screened a large compound library by using a quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) approach.
The assay is based upon a β-lactamase reporter under the control of a HRE. We have screened approximate 73,000 compounds by qHTS, with each compound tested over a range of seven to fifteen concentrations. After qHTS we have rapidly identified three novel structural series of HIF-1 pathway Inhibitors. Selected compounds in these series were also confirmed as inhibitors in a HRE β-lactamase reporter gene assay induced by low oxygen and in a VEGF secretion assay. Three of the four selected compounds tested showed significant inhibition of hypoxia-induced HIF-1α accumulation by western blot analysis.
The use of β-lactamase reporter gene assays, in combination with qHTS, enabled the rapid identification and prioritization of inhibitors specific to the hypoxia induced signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC2797767  PMID: 20003191
2.  Hypoxia and Hypoxia-Inducible Factor in the Burn Wound 
The importance of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) in promoting angiogenesis and vasculogenesis during wound healing has been demonstrated. It is widely accepted that HIF activity can be promoted by many factors, including hypoxia in the wound or cytokines from inflammatory cells infiltrating the wound. However, there has not been a systematic exploration of the relationship between HIF activity and hypoxia in the burn wound. The location of the hypoxic tissue has not been clearly delineated. The time course of the appearance of hypoxia and the increased activity of HIF and appearance of HIF’s downstream transcription products has not been described. The aim of this study was to utilize pimonidazole, a specific tissue hypoxia marker, to characterize the spatial and temporal course of hypoxia in a murine burn model and correlate this with the appearance of HIF-1α and its important angiogenic and vasculogenic transcription products VEGF and SDF-1. Hypoxia was found in the healing margin of burn wounds beginning at 48 hours after burn and peaking at day 3 after burn. On sequential sections of the same tissue block, positive staining of HIF-1α, SDF-1, and VEGF all occurred at the leading margin of the healing area and peaked at day 3, as did hypoxia. Immunohistochemical analysis was used to explore the characteristics of the hypoxic region of the wound. The localization of hypoxia was found to be related to cell growth and migration, but not to proliferation or inflammatory infiltration.
PMCID: PMC3075089  PMID: 21362088
ypoxia; Hypoxia-inducible factor -10α; Burn; Wound Healing; Ki67 Cell Proliferation; Keratin17
3.  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
4.  Hypoxia-inducible Factor Prolyl 4-Hydroxylase Inhibition A TARGET FOR NEUROPROTECTION IN THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2005;280(50):41732-41743.
Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) prolyl 4-hydroxylases are a family of iron- and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases that negatively regulate the stability of several proteins that have established roles in adaptation to hypoxic or oxidative stress. These proteins include the transcriptional activators HIF-1α and HIF-2α. The ability of the inhibitors of HIF prolyl 4-hydroxylases to stabilize proteins involved in adaptation in neurons and to prevent neuronal injury remains unclear. We reported that structurally diverse low molecular weight or peptide inhibitors of the HIF prolyl 4-hydroxylases stabilize HIF-1α and up-regulate HIF-dependent target genes (e.g. enolase, p21waf1/cip1, vascular endothelial growth factor, or erythropoietin) in embryonic cortical neurons in vitro or in adult rat brains in vivo. We also showed that structurally diverse HIF prolyl 4-hydroxylase inhibitors prevent oxidative death in vitro and ischemic injury in vivo. Taken together these findings identified low molecular weight and peptide HIF prolyl 4-hydroxylase inhibitors as novel neurological therapeutics for stroke as well as other diseases associated with oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC2586128  PMID: 16227210
5.  The Caulerpa Pigment Caulerpin Inhibits HIF-1 Activation and Mitochondrial Respiration 
Journal of natural products  2009;72(12):2104-2109.
The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) represents an important molecular target for anticancer drug discovery. In a T47D cell-based reporter assay, the Caulerpa spp. algal pigment caulerpin (1) inhibited hypoxia-induced as well as 1,10-phenanthroline-induced HIF-1 activation. The angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is regulated by HIF-1. Caulerpin (10 μM) suppressed hypoxic induction of secreted VEGF protein and the ability of hypoxic T47D cell-conditioned media to promote tumor angiogenesis in vitro. Under hypoxic conditions, 1 (10 μM) blocked the induction of HIF-1α protein, the oxygen-regulated subunit that controls HIF-1 activity. Reactive oxygen species produced by mitochondrial complex III are believed to act as a signal of cellular hypoxia that leads to HIF-1α protein induction and activation. Further mechanistic studies revealed that 1 inhibits mitochondrial respiration at electron transport chain (ETC) complex I (NADH-ubiquinone oxidoreductase). Under hypoxic conditions, it is proposed that 1 may disrupt mitochondrial ROS-regulated HIF-1 activation and HIF-1 downstream target gene expression by inhibiting the transport or delivery of electrons to complex III.
PMCID: PMC2798910  PMID: 19921787
6.  Identification of Chemical Compounds that Induce HIF-1α Activity 
Toxicological Sciences  2009;112(1):153-163.
Cellular metabolism depends on the availability of oxygen and the major regulator of oxygen homeostasis is hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1), a highly conserved transcription factor that plays an essential role in cellular and systemic homeostatic responses to hypoxia. HIF-1 is a heterodimeric transcription factor composed of hypoxia-inducible HIF-1α and constitutively expressed HIF-1β. Under hypoxic conditions, the two subunits dimerize, allowing translocation of the HIF-1 complex to the nucleus where it binds to hypoxia-response elements (HREs) and activates expression of target genes implicated in angiogenesis, cell growth, and survival. The HIF-1 pathway is essential to normal growth and development, and is involved in the pathophysiology of cancer, inflammation, and ischemia. Thus, there is considerable interest in identifying compounds that modulate the HIF-1 signaling pathway. To assess the ability of environmental chemicals to stimulate the HIF-1 signaling pathway, we screened a National Toxicology Program collection of 1408 compounds using a cell-based β-lactamase HRE reporter gene assay in a quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS) format. Twelve active compounds were identified. These compounds were tested in a confirmatory assay for induction of vascular endothelial growth factor, a known hypoxia target gene, and confirmed compounds were further tested for their ability to mimic the effect of a reduced-oxygen environment on hypoxia-regulated promoter activity. Based on this testing strategy, three compounds (o-phenanthroline, iodochlorohydroxyquinoline, cobalt sulfate heptahydrate) were confirmed as hypoxia mimetics, whereas two compounds (7-diethylamino-4-methylcoumarin and 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracence) were found to interact with HIF-1 in a manner different from hypoxia. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of qHTS in combination with secondary assays for identification of HIF-1α inducers and for distinguishing among inducers based on their pattern of activated hypoxic target genes. Identification of environmental compounds having HIF-1α activation activity in cell-based assays may be useful for prioritizing chemicals for further testing as hypoxia-response inducers in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2910898  PMID: 19502547
cobalt sulfate heptahydrate; 7-diethylamino-4-methylcoumarin; 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracence; HIF-1α; inducers; iodochlorohydroxyquinoline; NTP 1408 compound library; o-phenanthroline; qHTS
7.  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
8.  The Hypoxia-Inducible Factor Pathway, Prolyl Hydroxylase Domain Protein Inhibitors, and Their Roles in Bone Repair and Regeneration 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:239356.
Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are oxygen-dependent transcriptional activators that play crucial roles in angiogenesis, erythropoiesis, energy metabolism, and cell fate decisions. The group of enzymes that can catalyse the hydroxylation reaction of HIF-1 is prolyl hydroxylase domain proteins (PHDs). PHD inhibitors (PHIs) activate the HIF pathway by preventing degradation of HIF-α via inhibiting PHDs. Osteogenesis and angiogenesis are tightly coupled during bone repair and regeneration. Numerous studies suggest that HIFs and their target gene, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), are critical regulators of angiogenic-osteogenic coupling. In this brief perspective, we review current studies about the HIF pathway and its role in bone repair and regeneration, as well as the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved. Additionally, we briefly discuss the therapeutic manipulation of HIFs and VEGF in bone repair and bone tumours. This review will expand our knowledge of biology of HIFs, PHDs, PHD inhibitors, and bone regeneration, and it may also aid the design of novel therapies for accelerating bone repair and regeneration or inhibiting bone tumours.
PMCID: PMC4034436  PMID: 24895555
9.  Hypoxia and angiogenesis: regulation of hypoxia-inducible factors via novel binding factors 
Experimental & Molecular Medicine  2009;41(12):849-857.
The mechanisms that regulate angiogenesis in hypoxia or hypoxic microenvironment are modulated by several pro- and antiangiogenic factors. Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) have been established as the basic and major inducers of angiogenesis, but understanding the role of interacting proteins is becoming increasingly important to elucidate the angiogenic processes of a hypoxic response. In particular, with regard to wound healing and the novel therapies for vascular disorders such as ischemic brain and heart attack, it is essential to gain insights in the formation and regulation of HIF transcriptional machineries related to angiogenesis. Further, identification of alternative ways of inhibiting tumor growth by disrupting the growth-triggering mechanisms of increasing vascular supply via angiogenesis depends on the knowledge of how tumor cells develop their own vasculature. Here, we review our findings on the interactions of basic HIFs, HIF-1α and HIF-2α, with their regulatory binding proteins, histone deacetylase 7 (HDAC7) and translation initiation factor 6 (Int6), respectively. The present results and discussion revealed new regulatory interactions of HIF-related mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2802680  PMID: 19942820
angiogenic proteins; anoxia; eukaryotic initiation factors; histone deacetylases; hypoxia-ischemia, brain; neovascularization, pathologic
10.  Putative role of HIF transcriptional activity in melanocytes and melanoma biology 
Dermato-endocrinology  2013;5(2):239-251.
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is a highly oxygen sensitive bHLH protein that is part of the heterodimeric HIF-1 transcription factor. Under hypoxic stress, HIF-1 activity is induced to control expression of multiple downstream target genes, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The normal epidermis exists in a constant mild hypoxic microenvironment and constitutively expresses HIF-1α and HIF-2α. Expression of HIF-1α and/or HIF-2α has been suggested to correlate with the increased malignant potential of melanocytes, therefore, failures of melanoma therapies may be partially linked to high HIF activity. Notably, melanomas that have the V600E BRAF mutation exhibit increased HIF-1α expression. We have utilized a bioinformatics approach to identify putative hypoxia response elements (HREs) in a set of genes known to participate in the process of melanogenesis (includingTRPM1, SLC45A2, HRAS, C-KIT, PMEL and CRH). While some of the mechanistic links between these genes and the HIF pathway have been previously explored, others await further investigation. Although agents targeting HIF activity have been proposed as novel treatment modalities for melanoma, there are currently no clinical trials in progress to test their efficacy in melanoma.
PMCID: PMC3772912  PMID: 24194964
HIF-1; keratinocytes; melanocytes; melanoma; oncogenesis; skin
11.  Expression and localization of hypoxia inducible factor-1α mRNA in the porcine ovary 
Angiogenesis is an essential process during follicular development and corpora lutea (CL) formation. Recent studies have shown that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an essential regulator of ovarian angiogenesis. Several lines of evidence have indicated that the production of VEGF is regulated by hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), especially under hypoxic conditions, but the expression of HIF-1α has not been well characterized in the porcine ovary. The present study examined the expression of HIF-1α mRNA and its localization in porcine ovaries at different stages of the estrous cycle. Northern blot analyses of total CL RNA indicated hybridization of the porcine HIF-1α probe to transcripts of approximately 3.8 kb. The mRNA expression of HIF-1α was highest in CL during the early luteal phase, followed by a decrease during the mid- and late-luteal phases. Using in situ hybridization, abundant HIF-1α mRNA was evident in follicles and CL. Within non-atretic follicles, HIF-1α mRNA was highly expressed in the granulosa cell layer, while weaker labeling was evident in the theca interna. These results suggest that HIF-1α may play a role in the regulation of cellular metabolism and blood supply during follicular growth and CL formation.
PMCID: PMC1176301  PMID: 16187552
12.  Prodeath or Prosurvival: Two Facets of Hypoxia Inducible Factor-1 in Perinatal Brain Injury 
Experimental neurology  2008;216(1):7-15.
Hypoxia, which occurs in the brain when oxygen availability drops below the normal level, is a major cause of perinatal hypoxic-ischemic injury (HII). The transcriptional factor hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a key regulator in the pathophysiological response to the stress of hypoxia. Genes regulated by HIF-1 are involved in energy metabolism, erythropoiesis, angiogenesis, vasodilatation, cell survival and apoptosis. Compared with the adult brain, the neonatal brain is different in physiological structure, function, cellular composition and signaling pathways related gene activation and response after hypoxia. The purpose of this review is to determine if developmental susceptibility of the brain after hypoxic/ischemic injury is related to HIF-1a, which also plays a pivotal role in the normal brain development. HIF-1a regulates both prosurvival and prodeath responses in the neonatal brain and various mechanisms underlie the apparent contradictory effects, including duration of ischemic injury and severity, cell-types, and/or dependent on the nature of the stimulus after HII. Studies report an excessive induction of HIF-1 in the immature brain, which suggests that a cell death promoting role of HIF may prevail. Inhibition of HIF-1a and targeted activation of its prosurvival genes appear as a favorable therapeutic strategy. However, a better understanding of multifaceted HIF-1 function during brain development is required to explore potential targets for further therapeutic interventions in the neonate.
PMCID: PMC2672430  PMID: 19041643
13.  Hypoxia and the hypoxia-inducible-factor pathway in glioma growth and angiogenesis1 
Neuro-Oncology  2005;7(2):134-153.
Glioblastomas, like other solid tumors, have extensive areas of hypoxia and necrosis. The importance of hypoxia in driving tumor growth is receiving increased attention. Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is one of the master regulators that orchestrate the cellular responses to hypoxia. It is a heterodimeric transcription factor composed of α and β subunits. The α subunit is stable in hypoxic conditions but is rapidly degraded in normoxia. The function of HIF-1 is also modulated by several molecular mechanisms that regulate its synthesis, degradation, and transcriptional activity. Upon stabilization or activation, HIF-1 translocates to the nucleus and induces transcription of its downstream target genes. Most important to gliomagenesis, HIF-1 is a potent activator of angiogenesis and invasion through its upregulation of target genes critical for these functions. Activation of the HIF-1 pathway is a common feature of gliomas and may explain the intense vascular hyperplasia often seen in glioblastoma multiforme. Activation of HIF results in the activation of vascular endothelial growth factors, vascular endothelial growth factor receptors, matrix metalloproteinases, plasminogen activator inhibitor, transforming growth factors α and β, angiopoietin and Tie receptors, endothelin-1, inducible nitric oxide synthase, adrenomedullin, and erythropoietin, which all affect glioma angiogenesis. In conclusion, HIF is a critical regulatory factor in the tumor microenvironment because of its central role in promoting proangiogenic and invasive properties. While HIF activation strongly promotes angiogenesis, the emerging vasculature is often abnormal, leading to a vicious cycle that causes further hypoxia and HIF upregulation.
PMCID: PMC1871894  PMID: 15831232
14.  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
15.  Prolyl Hydroxylase Inhibitors Increase Neoangiogenesis and Callus Formation following Femur Fracture in Mice 
Skeletal trauma and impaired skeletal healing is commonly associated with diminished vascularity. Hypoxia inducible factor alpha (HIF-1) is a key transcription factor responsible for activating angiogenic factors during development and tissue repair. Small molecule inhibitors of the prolyl hydroxylase enzyme (PHD), the key enzyme responsible for degrading HIF-1, have been shown to activate HIF-1, and are effective in inducing angiogenesis. Here we examined the effects of several commercially available PHD inhibitors on bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in vitro and in a stabilized fracture model in vivo. Three PHD inhibitors [Desferrioxamine (DFO), L-mimosine (L-mim), and Dimethyloxalylglycine (DMOG)] effectively activated a HIF-1 target reporter, induced expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) mRNA in vitro, and increased capillary sprouting in a functional angiogenesis assay. DFO and DMOG were applied by direct injection at the fracture site in a stabilized murine femur fracture model. PHD inhibition increased the vascularity at 14 days and increased callus size as assessed by microCT at 28 days. These results suggest that HIF activation is a viable approach to increase vascularity and bone formation following skeletal trauma.
PMCID: PMC3767389  PMID: 19338032
hypoxia inducible factor; fracture healing; vascularity; prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor
16.  Differential Role of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 Alpha in Toll-Like Receptor-Mediated and Allergic Inflammatory Reactions 
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a transcription complex that plays a pivotal role in cellular adaptation to hypoxic conditions. The role of this factor in inflammatory reactions associated with infections and allergies has recently become evident. In this review we summarize our current knowledge concerning the accumulation and role of HIF-1 in Toll-like receptor-mediated and allergic inflammation. The differential molecular mechanisms used to stabilize this protein in various settings and its ability to support both proinflammatory and angiogenic responses suggest important functional roles in both innate immune responses and allergies. Importantly, the HIF-1 transcription complex is activated in human basophils during IgE-mediated inflammatory responses. It is involved in VEGF expression and subsequent promotion of angiogenesis and in controlling energy metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3651115  PMID: 23282899
inflammation; allergy; Toll-like receptors; basophils; hypoxia; HIF-1
17.  Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF)-2 regulates Vascular Tumorigenesis in Mice 
Oncogene  2008;27(40):5354-5358.
The von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor pVHL regulates the stability of Hypoxia-Inducible Factors (HIF) -1 and –2, oxygen-sensitive basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors, which mediate the hypoxic induction of angiogenic growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Loss of VHL function results in constitutive activation of HIF-1 and HIF-2 and is associated with the development of highly vascularized tumors in multiple organs. We have used a conditional gene targeting approach to investigate the relative contributions of HIF-1 and HIF-2 to VHL-associated vascular tumorigenesis in a mouse model of liver hemangiomas. Here we demonstrate genetically that conditional inactivation of HIF-2α suppressed the development of VHL-associated liver hemangiomas and that angiogenic gene expression in hepatocytes is predominantly regulated by HIF-2 and not by HIF-1. These findings suggest that HIF-2 is the dominant HIF in the pathogenesis of VHL-associated vascular tumors and that pharmacologic targeting of HIF-2 may be an effective strategy for their treatment.
PMCID: PMC2575082  PMID: 18490920
18.  HER2 (neu) Signaling Increases the Rate of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1α (HIF-1α) Synthesis: Novel Mechanism for HIF-1-Mediated Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Expression 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2001;21(12):3995-4004.
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a transcriptional activator composed of HIF-1α and HIF-1β subunits. Several dozen HIF-1 targets are known, including the gene encoding vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Under hypoxic conditions, HIF-1α expression increases as a result of decreased ubiquitination and degradation. The tumor suppressors VHL (von Hippel-Lindau protein) and p53 target HIF-1α for ubiquitination such that their inactivation in tumor cells increases the half-life of HIF-1α. Increased phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and AKT or decreased PTEN activity in prostate cancer cells also increases HIF-1α expression by an undefined mechanism. In breast cancer, increased activity of the HER2 (also known as neu) receptor tyrosine kinase is associated with increased tumor grade, chemotherapy resistance, and decreased patient survival. HER2 has also been implicated as an inducer of VEGF expression. Here we demonstrate that HER2 signaling induced by overexpression in mouse 3T3 cells or heregulin stimulation of human MCF-7 breast cancer cells results in increased HIF-1α protein and VEGF mRNA expression that is dependent upon activity of PI3K, AKT (also known as protein kinase B), and the downstream kinase FRAP (FKBP-rapamycin-associated protein). In contrast to other inducers of HIF-1 expression, heregulin stimulation does not affect the half-life of HIF-1α but instead stimulates HIF-1α synthesis in a rapamycin-dependent manner. The 5′-untranslated region of HIF-1α mRNA directs heregulin-inducible expression of a heterologous protein. These data provide a molecular basis for VEGF induction and tumor angiogenesis by heregulin-HER2 signaling and establish a novel mechanism for the regulation of HIF-1α expression.
PMCID: PMC87062  PMID: 11359907
19.  Hypoxia-inducible Factor-dependent Production of Profibrotic Mediators by Hypoxic Hepatocytes 
During the development of liver fibrosis, mediators are produced that stimulate cells in the liver to differentiate into myofibroblasts and to produce collagen. Recent studies demonstrated that the transcription factor, hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), is critical for upregulation of profibrotic mediators, such as platelet-derived growth factor-A (PDGF-A), PDGF-B, and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) in the liver during the development of fibrosis. What remains unknown is the cell type-specific regulation of these genes by HIF-1α in liver cell types. Accordingly, the hypothesis was tested that HIF-1α is activated in hypoxic hepatocytes and regulates production of profibrotic mediators by these cells.
In this study, hepatocytes were isolated from the livers of control and HIF-1α or HIF-1β-Deficient mice and exposed to hypoxia.
Exposure of primary mouse hepatocytes to 1% oxygen stimulated nuclear accumulation of HIF-1α and upregulated PAI-1, vascular endothelial cell growth factor, and the vasoactive peptides adrenomedullin-1 (ADM-1) and ADM-2. In contrast, levels of PDGF-A and PDGF-B mRNAs were unaffected in these cells by hypoxia. Exposure of HIF-1α-Deficient hepatocytes to 1% oxygen only partially prevented upregulation of these genes, suggesting that other hypoxia-regulated transcription factors, such as HIF-2α, may also regulate these genes. In support of this, HIF-2α was activated in hypoxic hepatocytes, and exposure of HIF-1β-Deficient hepatocytes to 1% oxygen completely prevented upregulation PAI-1, VEGF, and ADM-1, suggesting that HIF-2α may also contribute to upregulation of these genes in hypoxic hepatocytes.
Collectively, our results suggest that HIFs may be important regulators of profibrotic and vasoactive mediators by hypoxic hepatocytes.
PMCID: PMC3111079  PMID: 19302442
Hypoxia-inducible factor; hepatocytes; liver fibrosis
20.  Roles of Polo-like kinase 3 in suppressing tumor angiogenesis 
Angiogenesis is essential for promoting growth and metastasis of solid tumors by ensuring blood supply to the tumor mass. Targeting angiogenesis is therefore an attractive approach to therapeutic intervention of cancer. Tumor angiogenesis is a process that is controlled by a complex network of molecular components including sensors, signaling transducers, and effectors, leading to cellular responses under hypoxic conditions. Positioned at the center of this network are the hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs). HIF-1 is a major transcription factor that consists of two subunits, HIF-1α and HIF-1β. It mediates transcription of a spectrum of gene targets whose products are essential for mounting hypoxic responses. HIF-1α protein level is very low in the normoxic condition but is rapidly elevated under hypoxia. This dramatic change in the cellular HIF-1α level is primarily regulated through the proteosome-mediated degradation process. In the past few years, scientific progress has clearly demonstrated that HIF-1α phosphorylation is mediated by several families of protein kinases including GSK3β and ERKs both of which play crucial roles in the regulation of HIF-1α stability. Recent research progress has identified that Polo-like kinase 3 (Plk3) phosphorylates HIF-1α at two previously unidentified serine residues and that the Plk3-mediated phosphorylation of these residues results in destabilization of HIF-1α. Plk3 has also recently been found to phosphorylate and stabilize PTEN phosphatase, a known regulator of HIF-1α and tumor angiogenesis. Given the success of targeting protein kinases and tumor angiogenesis in anti-cancer therapies, Plk3 could be a potential molecular target for the development of novel and effective therapeutic agents for cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC3506990  PMID: 23210979
Plk3; Tumor angiogenesis; Tumor suppression; HIF-1α; PTEN
21.  Regulation of glucose metabolism-related genes and VEGF by HIF-1α and HIF-1β, but not HIF-2α, in gastric cancer 
Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are transcription factors that activate the transcription of target genes involved in crucial aspects of cancer development. This study investigated the expression of HIFs and their contribution to the regulation of target genes related to angiogenesis and glucose metabolism in gastric cancer. The data showed that HIFs were over-expressed in gastric cancer and that activation of the target genes was observed mainly in the early stages. Moreover, the results of the present study revealed that only HIF-1α, but not HIF-2α dimerizes with HIF-1β and then regulates expression of target genes in response to hypoxia. The results of the present study demonstrate that HIF-1α and HIF-1β enhances expression of VEGF and glucose metabolism-related genes in response to hypoxia in gastric cancer. These data offer important information regarding HIF pathways in the development of gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC2679279  PMID: 19287200
glucose metabolism disorders; hypoxia-inducible factor 1; neovascularization, pathologic; stomach neoplasms; vascular endothelial growth factor A
22.  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
23.  The Critical Impact of HIF-1α on Gastric Cancer Biology 
Cancers  2013;5(1):15-26.
Hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) monitors the cellular response to the oxygen levels in solid tumors. Under hypoxia conditions, HIF-1α protein is stabilized and forms a heterodimer with the HIF-1β subunit. The HIF-1 complex activates the transcription of numerous target genes in order to adapt the hypoxic environment in human cancer cells. In gastric cancer patients, HIF-1α activation following extended hypoxia strongly correlates with an aggressive tumor phenotype and a poor prognosis. HIF-1α activation has been also reported to occur via hypoxia-independent mechanisms such as PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling and ROS production. This article argues for the critical roles of HIF-1α in glucose metabolism, carcinogenesis, angiogenesis, invasion, metastasis, cell survival and chemoresistance, focusing on gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC3730315  PMID: 24216696
HIF-1α; hypoxia; gastric cancer
24.  HIF-1α-Deficient Mice Have Increased Brain Injury after Neonatal Hypoxia-Ischemia 
Developmental Neuroscience  2009;31(5):452-458.
Evidence suggests that the activation of the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) may promote cell survival in hypoxic or ischemic brain. To help understand the role of HIF-1α in neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury, mice with conditional neuron-specific inactivation of HIF-1α underwent hypoxia-ischemia (HI). Mice heterozygous for Cre recombinase under the control of the calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase II promoter were bred with homozygous ‘floxed’ HIF-1α transgenic mice. The resulting litters produced mice with a forebrain predominant neuronal deletion of HIF-1α (HIF-1αΔ/Δ), as well as littermates without the deletion. In order to verify reduction of HIF-1α at postnatal day 7, HIF-1αΔ/Δ and wild-type mice were exposed to a hypoxic stimulus (8% oxygen) or room air for 1 h, followed by immediate collection of brain cortices for determination of HIF-1α expression. Results of Western blotting of mouse cortices exposed to hypoxia stimulus or room air confirmed that HIF-1αΔ/Δ cortex expressed a minimal amount of HIF-1α protein compared to wild-type cortex with the same hypoxic stimulus. Subsequently, pups underwent the Vannucci procedure of HI at postnatal day 7: unilateral ligation of the right common carotid artery followed by 30 min of hypoxia (8% oxygen). Immunofluorescent staining of brains 24 h after HI confirmed a relative lack of HIF-1α in the HIF-1αΔ/Δ cortex compared to the wild type, and that HIF-1α in the wild type is located in neurons. HIF-1α expression was determined in mouse cortex 24 h after HI. Histological analysis for the degree of injury was performed 5 days after HI. HIF-1α protein expression 24 h after HI showed a large increase of HIF-1α in the hypoxic-ischemic cortex of the wild-type compared to the hypoxic only cortex. Histological analysis revealed that HI injury was increased in the neuronally deficient HIF-1αΔ/Δ mouse brain (p < 0.05) and was more severe in the cortex. Genetic reduction of neuronal HIF-1α results in a worsening of injury after neonatal HI, with a region-specific role for HIF-1α in the setting of neonatal brain injury.
PMCID: PMC2820335  PMID: 19672073
Brain injury; Transcription factor; Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α; Neonatal hypoxia-ischemia
25.  Lung Macrophages Contribute to House Dust Mite Driven Airway Remodeling via HIF-1α 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69246.
HIF-1α is a transcription factor that is activated during hypoxia and inflammation and is a key regulator of angiogenesis in vivo. During the development of asthma, peribronchial angiogenesis is induced in response to aeroallergens and is thought to be an important feature of sustained chronic allergic inflammation. Recently, elevated HIF-1α levels have been demonstrated in both the lung tissue and bronchoalveolar lavage of allergic patients, respectively. Therefore, we investigated the role of HIF-1α on the development of angiogenesis and inflammation following acute and chronic allergen exposure. Our data shows that intranasal exposure to house dust mite (HDM) increases the expression of HIF-1α in the lung, whilst reducing the expression of the HIF-1α negative regulators, PHD1 and PHD3. Blockade of HIF-1α in vivo, significantly decreased allergic inflammation and eosinophilia induced by allergen, due to a reduction in the levels of IL-5 and Eotaxin-2. Importantly, HIF-1α blockade significantly decreased levels of VEGF-A and CXCL1 in the lungs, which in turn led to a profound decrease in the recruitment of endothelial progenitor cells and a reduction of peribronchial angiogenesis. Furthermore, HDM or IL-4 treatment of primary lung macrophages resulted in significant production of both VEGF-A and CXCL1; inhibition of HIF-1α activity abrogated the production of these factors via an up-regulation of PHD1 and PHD3. These findings suggest that novel strategies to reduce the expression and activation of HIF-1α in lung macrophages may be used to attenuate allergen-induced airway inflammation and angiogenesis through the modulation of VEGF-A and CXCL1 expression.
Clinical Relevance
This study provides new insights into the role of HIF-1α in the development of peribronchial angiogenesis and inflammation in a murine model of allergic airway disease. These findings indicate that strategies to reduce activation of macrophage derived HIF-1α may be used as a target to improve asthma pathology.
PMCID: PMC3720585  PMID: 23935964

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