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1.  Hypoxia inducible factor 1α-mediated LOX expression correlates with migration and invasion in epithelial ovarian cancer 
International Journal of Oncology  2013;42(5):1578-1588.
This study investigated the role of LOX in promoting invasion and metastasis of epithelial ovarian cancer in a hypoxic environment and its specific signal transduction pathway. Immunohistochemical detection of HIF-1α and LOX protein expression was performed on formalin-fixed paraffin sections of normal ovary, benign ovarian tumors, borderline and malignant epithelial ovarian tumor paraffin sample, using Mann-Whitney U test for independent comparisons and Wilcoxon signed-ranks test for paired comparisons. HIF-1α and LOX were knocked down in epithelial ovarian cancer cells (EOC), and HIF-1α/LOX regulation mechanism and LOX catalytic activity under hypoxia/reoxygenation microenvironment were explored. Cell migration and invasion ability in LOX inhibited HO8910 cells were investigated under hypoxia/reoxygenation conditions, using matrigel cell invasion and migration assays. We found that HIF-1α and LOX are highly expressed in epithelial ovarian cancer tissues, and the expression of both proteins is significantly correlated with the tumor grade, tumor diameter and lymph node metastasis. HIF-1α expression is positively correlated with the expression of LOX. Specifically, the expression of LOX and HIF-1α markedly increases under hypoxic conditions and decreases after reoxygenation. siRNA knockdown of LOX or β-aminoproprionitrile (βAPN), an inhibitor of LOX activity, that attenuates LOX activity, downregulates HIF-1α protein expression and inhibits HO8910 migratory and invasive abilities. LOX catalytic activity is significantly reduced under hypoxic conditions. Moreover, EOC cells display a marked increase in LOX-dependent FAK/AKT activation and cell migration following hypoxia/reoxygenation. Collectively, our study demonstrates that the hypoxia-HIF-1α, LOX-FAK/AKT pathway regulates the migration and invasion of epithelial ovarian cancer cells under hypoxia/reoxygenation conditions, thus, promoting metastasis of ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC3661201  PMID: 23545606
lysyl oxidase; ovarian cancer; metastasis; hypoxia; hypoxia-inducible factor; reoxygenation
2.  Adenoviral 15-lipoxygenase-1 gene transfer inhibits hypoxia-induced proliferation of retinal microvascular endothelial cells in vitro 
To investigate whether 15-Lipoxygenase-1 (15-LOX-1) plays an important role in the regulation of angiogenesis, inhibiting hypoxia-induced proliferation of retinal microvascular endothelial cells (RMVECs) and the underlying mechanism.
Primary RMVECs were isolated from the retinas of C57/BL6J mice and identified by an evaluation for FITC-marked CD31. The hypoxia models were established with the Bio-bag and evaluated with a blood-gas analyzer. Experiments were performed using RMVECs treated with and without transfer Ad-15-LOX-1 or Ad-vector both under hypoxia and normoxia condition at 12, 24, 48, 72 hours. The efficacy of the gene transfer was assessed by immunofluorescence staining. Cells proliferation was evaluated by the CCK-8 method. RNA and protein expressions of 15-LOX-1, VEGF-A, VEGFR-2, eNOs and PPAR-r were analyzed by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blot.
Routine evaluation for FITC-marked CD31 showed that cells were pure. The results of blood-gas analysis showed that when the cultures were exposed to hypoxia for more than 2 hours, the Po2 was 4.5 to 5.4 Kpa. We verified RMVECs could be infected with Ad-15-LOX-1 or Ad-vector via Fluorescence microscopy. CCK-8 analysis revealed that the proliferative capacities of RMVECs in hypoxic group were significantly higher at each time point than they were in normoxic group (P<0.05). In a hypoxic condition, the proliferative capacities of RMVECs in 15-LOX-1 group were significantly inhibited (P<0.05). Real-time RT-PCR analysis revealed that the expressions of VEGF-A, VEGF-R2 and eNOs mRNA increased in hypoxia group compared with normoxia group (P<0.01). However, the expressions of 15-LOX-1, PPAR-r mRNA decreased in hypoxia group compared with normoxia group (P<0.01). It also showed that in a hypoxic condition, the expressions of VEGF-A, VEGF-R2 and eNOs mRNA decreased significantly in 15-LOX-1 group compared with hypoxia group (P<0.01). However, 15-LOX-1 and PPAR-r mRNA increased significantly in 15-LOX-1 group compared with hypoxia group (P<0.01). There was no significant difference of the mRNA expressions between vector group and hypoxia group (P>0.05). Western blot analysis revealed that the expressions of relative proteins were also ranked in that order.
Our results suggested that 15-LOX-1 and PPAR-r might act as a negative regulator of retinal angiogenesis. And the effect of 15-LOX-1 overexpression is an anti-angiogenic factor in hypoxia-induced retinal neovascularization (RNV). Overexpression 15-LOX-1 on RMVECs of hypoxia-induced RNV blocked signaling cascades by inhibiting hypoxia-induced increases in VEGF family. PPAR-r effect on VEGFR2 could be an additional mechanism whereby 15-LOX-1 inhibited the hypoxia-induced RNV.
PMCID: PMC3484709  PMID: 23166865
15-Lipoxygenase-1; hypoxia; retinal microvascular endothelial cells; retinal neovascularization
3.  15-LOX-1 suppression of hypoxia-induced metastatic phenotype and HIF-1α expression in human colon cancer cells 
Cancer Medicine  2014;3(3):472-484.
The expression of 15-lipoxygenase-1 (15-LOX-1) is downregulated in colon cancer and other major cancers, and 15-LOX-1 reexpression in cancer cells suppresses colonic tumorigenesis. Various lines of evidence indicate that 15-LOX-1 expression suppresses premetastatic stages of colonic tumorigenesis; nevertheless, the role of 15-LOX-1 loss of expression in cancer epithelial cells in metastases continues to be debated. Hypoxia, a common feature of the cancer microenvironment, promotes prometastatic mechanisms such as the upregulation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, a transcriptional master regulator that enhances cancer cell metastatic potential, angiogenesis, and tumor cell invasion and migration. We have, therefore, tested whether restoring 15-LOX-1 in colon cancer cells affects cancer cells' hypoxia response that promotes metastasis. We found that 15-LOX-1 reexpression in HCT116, HT29LMM, and LoVo colon cancer cells inhibited survival, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression, angiogenesis, cancer cell migration and invasion, and HIF-1α protein expression and stability under hypoxia. These findings demonstrate that 15-LOX-1 expression loss in cancer cells promotes metastasis and that therapeutically targeting ubiquitous 15-LOX-1 loss in cancer cells has the potential to suppress metastasis.
PMCID: PMC4101738  PMID: 24634093
15-Lipoxygenase-1; angiogenesis; HIF-1α; hypoxia
4.  HIF-1α/GPER signaling mediates the expression of VEGF induced by hypoxia in breast cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs) 
Carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) play a pivotal role in cancer progression by contributing to invasion, metastasis and angiogenesis. Solid tumors possess a unique microenvironment characterized by local hypoxia, which induces gene expression changes and biological features leading to poor outcomes. Hypoxia Inducible Factor 1 (HIF-1) is the main transcription factor that mediates the cell response to hypoxia through different mechanisms that include the regulation of genes strongly associated with cancer aggressiveness. Among the HIF-1 target genes, the G-protein estrogen receptor (GPER) exerts a stimulatory role in diverse types of cancer cells and in CAFs.
We evaluated the regulation and function of the key angiogenic mediator vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in CAFs exposed to hypoxia. Gene expression studies, Western blotting analysis and immunofluorescence experiments were performed in CAFs and breast cancer cells in the presence of cobalt chloride (CoCl2) or cultured under low oxygen tension (2% O2), in order to analyze the involvement of the HIF-1α/GPER signaling in the biological responses to hypoxia. We also explored the role of the HIF-1α/GPER transduction pathway in functional assays like tube formation in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and cell migration in CAFs.
We first determined that hypoxia induces the expression of HIF-1α and GPER in CAFs, then we ascertained that the HIF-1α/GPER signaling is involved in the regulation of VEGF expression in breast cancer cells and in CAFs exposed to hypoxia. We also assessed by ChIP assay that HIF-1α and GPER are both recruited to the VEGF promoter sequence and required for VEGF promoter stimulation upon hypoxic condition. As a biological counterpart of these findings, conditioned medium from hypoxic CAFs promoted tube formation in HUVECs in a HIF-1α/GPER dependent manner. The functional cooperation between HIF-1α and GPER in CAFs was also evidenced in the hypoxia-induced cell migration, which involved a further target of the HIF-1α/GPER signaling like connective tissue growth factor (CTGF).
The present results provide novel insight into the role elicited by the HIF-1α/GPER transduction pathway in CAFs towards the hypoxia-dependent tumor angiogenesis. Our findings further extend the molecular mechanisms through which the tumor microenvironment may contribute to cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC3978922  PMID: 23947803
5.  Downregulation of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor and Induction of Tumor Dormancy by 15-lipoxygenase-2 in Prostate Cancer 
The enzyme 15-lipoxygenase-2 (15-LOX-2) utilizes arachidonic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, to synthesize 15(S)-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (HETE). Abundantly expressed in normal prostate epithelium but frequently suppressed in the cancerous tissues, 15-LOX-2 has been suggested as a functional suppressor of prostate cancer, but the mechanism(s) involved remains unknown. To study the functional role of 15-LOX-2 in prostate cancer, we expressed 15-LOX-2 as a fusion protein with GFP in DU145 and PC-3 cells and found that 15-LOX-2 increased cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 phase. When injected into athymic nu/nu mice, prostate cancer cells with 15-LOX-2 expression could still form palpable tumors without significant changes in tumorigenicity. But, the tumors with 15-LOX-2 expression grew significantly slower than those derived from vector controls and were kept dormant for a long period of time. Histological evaluation revealed an increase in cell death in tumors derived from prostate cancer cells with 15-LOX-2 expression, while in vitro cell culture conditions, no such increase in apoptosis was observed. Further studies found that the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) was significantly reduced in prostate cancer cells with 15-LOX-2 expression restored. Our studies suggest that 15-LOX-2 suppresses VEGF gene expression and sustains tumor dormancy in prostate cancer. Loss of 15-LOX-2 functionalities, therefore, represents a key step for prostate cancer cells to exit from dormancy and embark on malignant progression in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2913418  PMID: 19089921
tumor dormancy; angiogenesis; lipoxygenase; prostate cancer; VEGF
6.  Platelet-type 12-lipoxygenase induces MMP9 expression and cellular invasion via activation of PI3K/Akt/NF-κB 
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of death in males in the United States. Using human prostate cancer specimens, the authors have previously shown that elevated expression levels of 12-lipoxygenase (12-LOX) occurred more frequently in advanced stage, high-grade prostate cancer, suggesting that 12-LOX expression is associated with carcinoma progression and invasion. Previous reports from their group and others have shown that 12-LOX is a positive modulator of invasion and metastasis; however, the mechanism remains unclear. In this work, a new link between 12-LOX and the matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) in prostate cancer angiogenesis is reported. This study demonstrated that overexpression of 12-LOX in prostate cancer PC-3 cells resulted in elevated expression of MMP9 mRNA, protein and secretion. Exogenous addition of 12(S)-hydroxy eicosatetraenoic acid, the sole and stable end product of arachidonic acid metabolism by 12-LOX, is able to increase MMP9 expression in wild-type PC-3 cells. Furthermore, using pharmacological and genetic inhibition approaches, it was found that 12-LOX activates phosphoinositol 3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt, which results in nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB)-driven MMP9 expression, ensuing in enhanced chemoattraction of endothelial cells. Specific inhibitors of 12-LOX, PI3K or NF-κB inhibited MMP9 expression in 12-LOX-expressing PC-3 cells and resulted in the blockade of the migratory ability of endothelial cells. In summary, the authors have identified a new pathway by which overexpression of 12-LOX in prostate cancer cells leads to augmented production of MMP9 via activation of PI3K/Akt/NF-κB signaling. The role of 12-LOX-mediated MMP9 secretion in endothelial cell migration may account for the proangiogenic function of 12-LOX in prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC4269488  PMID: 23526143
12-lipoxygenase; matrix metalloproteinase; MMP9; NF-κB; prostate cancer; angiogenesis
7.  Hypoxia‐inducible factor expression in human RPE cells 
The British Journal of Ophthalmology  2007;91(10):1406-1410.
Hypoxia‐inducible factor (HIF) is a common transcription factor for many angiogenic proteins. Retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells are an important source of angiogenic factors in the retina. The expression of HIF, its regulation by proline hydroxylase (PHD) enzymes, and its downstream regulation of angiogenic factors like vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and erythropoietin (EPO) was studied in RPE cells in order to determine some of the molecular mechanisms underlying ischaemic retinal disease.
ARPE‐19 cells were cultured for various times under hypoxic conditions. Cellular HIF and PHD isoforms were analysed and quantified using western blot and densitometry. VEGF and EPO secreted into the media were assayed using enzyme‐linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Messenger RNA (mRNA) was quantified using real‐time quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). RNA interference was achieved using siRNA techniques.
HIF‐1α was readily produced by ARPE‐19 cells under hypoxia, but HIF‐2α and HIF‐3α could not be detected even after HIF‐1α silencing. HIF‐1α protein levels showed an increasing trend for the first 24 h while HIF‐1α mRNA levels fluctuated during this time. After 36 h HIF‐1α protein levels declined to baseline levels, a change that was coincident with a rise in both PHD2 and PHD3. Silencing HIF‐1α significantly decreased VEGF secretion. Significant production of EPO could not be detected at the protein or mRNA level.
HIF‐1α appears to be the main isoform of HIF functioning in ARPE‐19 cells. Under hypoxia, HIF‐1α levels are likely self‐regulated by a feedback loop that involves both transcriptional and post‐translational mechanisms. VEGF production by human RPE cells is regulated by HIF‐1α. EPO was not produced in significant amounts by RPE cells under hypoxic conditions, suggesting that other cells and/or transcription factors in the retina are responsible for its production.
PMCID: PMC2001032  PMID: 17567660
diabetic retinopathy; VEGF; erythropoietin; hypoxia‐inducible factor; proline hydroxylase
8.  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
9.  Ionizing radiation induces tumor cell lysyl oxidase secretion 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:532.
Ionizing radiation (IR) is a mainstay of cancer therapy, but irradiation can at times also lead to stress responses, which counteract IR-induced cytotoxicity. IR also triggers cellular secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor, transforming growth factor β and matrix metalloproteinases, among others, to promote tumor progression. Lysyl oxidase is known to play an important role in hypoxia-dependent cancer cell dissemination and metastasis. Here, we investigated the effects of IR on the expression and secretion of lysyl oxidase (LOX) from tumor cells.
LOX-secretion along with enzymatic activity was investigated in multiple tumor cell lines in response to irradiation. Transwell migration assays were performed to evaluate invasive capacity of naïve tumor cells in response to IR-induced LOX. In vivo studies for confirming IR-enhanced LOX were performed employing immunohistochemistry of tumor tissues and ex vivo analysis of murine blood serum derived from locally irradiated A549-derived tumor xenografts.
LOX was secreted in a dose dependent way from several tumor cell lines in response to irradiation. IR did not increase LOX-transcription but induced LOX-secretion. LOX-secretion could not be prevented by the microtubule stabilizing agent patupilone. In contrast, hypoxia induced LOX-transcription, and interestingly, hypoxia-dependent LOX-secretion could be counteracted by patupilone. Conditioned media from irradiated tumor cells promoted invasiveness of naïve tumor cells, while conditioned media from irradiated, LOX- siRNA-silenced cells did not stimulate their invasive capacity. Locally applied irradiation to tumor xenografts also increased LOX-secretion in vivo and resulted in enhanced LOX-levels in the murine blood serum.
These results indicate a differential regulation of LOX-expression and secretion in response to IR and hypoxia, and suggest that LOX may contribute towards an IR-induced migratory phenotype in sublethally-irradiated tumor cells and tumor progression.
PMCID: PMC4223762  PMID: 25052686
Lysyl oxidase; Ionizing radiation; Tumor invasion; Radiation resistance; Hypoxia; Microtubule stabilizing agent
10.  Suppression of STAT3 and HIF-1 Alpha Mediates Anti-Angiogenic Activity of Betulinic Acid in Hypoxic PC-3 Prostate Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21492.
Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is a transcription factor that regulates various cellular processes such as cell survival, angiogenesis and proliferation. In the present study, we examined that betulinic acid (BA), a triterpene from the bark of white birch, had the inhibitory effects on hypoxia-mediated activation of STAT3 in androgen independent human prostate cancer PC-3 cells.
Methodology/Principal Findings
BA inhibited the protein expression and the transcriptional activities of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) under hypoxic condition. Consistently, BA blocked hypoxia-induced phosphorylation, DNA binding activity and nuclear accumulation of STAT3. In addition, BA significantly reduced cellular and secreted levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a critical angiogenic factor and a target gene of STAT3 induced under hypoxia. Furthermore, BA prevented in vitro capillary tube formation in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) maintained in conditioned medium of hypoxic PC-3 cells, implying anti-angiogenic activity of BA under hypoxic condition. Of note, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChiP) assay revealed that BA inhibited binding of HIF-1α and STAT3 to VEGF promoter. Furthermore, silencing STAT3 using siRNA transfection effectively enhanced the reduced VEGF production induced by BA treatment under hypoxia.
Taken together, our results suggest that BA has anti-angiogenic activity by disturbing the binding of HIF-1α and STAT3 to the VEGF promoter in hypoxic PC-3 cells.
PMCID: PMC3123343  PMID: 21731766
11.  Hypoxia-inducing factors as master regulators of stemness properties and altered metabolism of cancer- and metastasis-initiating cells 
Accumulating lines of experimental evidence have revealed that hypoxia-inducible factors, HIF-1α and HIF-2α, are key regulators of the adaptation of cancer- and metastasis-initiating cells and their differentiated progenies to oxygen and nutrient deprivation during cancer progression under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Particularly, the sustained stimulation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R), stem cell factor (SCF) receptor KIT, transforming growth factor-β receptors (TGF-βRs) and Notch and their downstream signalling elements such as phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/molecular target of rapamycin (mTOR) may lead to an enhanced activity of HIFs. Moreover, the up-regulation of HIFs in cancer cells may also occur in the hypoxic intratumoral regions formed within primary and secondary neoplasms as well as in leukaemic cells and metastatic prostate and breast cancer cells homing in the hypoxic endosteal niche of bone marrow. The activated HIFs may induce the expression of numerous gene products such as induced pluripotency-associated transcription factors (Oct-3/4, Nanog and Sox-2), glycolysis- and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) programme-associated molecules, including CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4), snail and twist, microRNAs and angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). These gene products in turn can play critical roles for high self-renewal ability, survival, altered energy metabolism, invasion and metastases of cancer cells, angiogenic switch and treatment resistance. Consequently, the targeting of HIF signalling network and altered metabolic pathways represents new promising strategies to eradicate the total mass of cancer cells and improve the efficacy of current therapies against aggressive and metastatic cancers and prevent disease relapse.
PMCID: PMC3560853  PMID: 23301832
Hypoxia; Hypoxia-inducible factors; Metabolic pathways; Cancer progression; Metastases; Cancer stem/progenitor cells; Cancer-initiating cells; Metastasis-initiating cells; Targeted therapies
12.  Hypoxia-inducing factors as master regulators of stemness properties and altered metabolism of cancer- and metastasis-initiating cells 
Accumulating lines of experimental evidence have revealed that hypoxia-inducible factors, HIF-1α and HIF-2α, are key regulators of the adaptation of cancer- and metastasis-initiating cells and their differentiated progenies to oxygen and nutrient deprivation during cancer progression under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Particularly, the sustained stimulation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R), stem cell factor (SCF) receptor KIT, transforming growth factor-β receptors (TGF-βRs) and Notch and their downstream signalling elements such as phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/molecular target of rapamycin (mTOR) may lead to an enhanced activity of HIFs. Moreover, the up-regulation of HIFs in cancer cells may also occur in the hypoxic intratumoral regions formed within primary and secondary neoplasms as well as in leukaemic cells and metastatic prostate and breast cancer cells homing in the hypoxic endosteal niche of bone marrow. The activated HIFs may induce the expression of numerous gene products such as induced pluripotency-associated transcription factors (Oct-3/4, Nanog and Sox-2), glycolysis- and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) programme-associated molecules, including CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4), snail and twist, microRNAs and angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). These gene products in turn can play critical roles for high self-renewal ability, survival, altered energy metabolism, invasion and metastases of cancer cells, angiogenic switch and treatment resistance. Consequently, the targeting of HIF signalling network and altered metabolic pathways represents new promising strategies to eradicate the total mass of cancer cells and improve the efficacy of current therapies against aggressive and metastatic cancers and prevent disease relapse.
PMCID: PMC3560853  PMID: 23301832
Hypoxia; Hypoxia-inducible factors; Metabolic pathways; Cancer progression; Metastases; Cancer stem/progenitor cells; Cancer-initiating cells; Metastasis-initiating cells; Targeted therapies
13.  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
14.  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
Oncogene  2010;29(30):4261-4275.
15-Lipoxygenase 2 (15-LOX2), a lipid-peroxidizing enzyme, is mainly expressed in the luminal compartment of the normal human prostate and often decreased or lost in prostate cancer. Previous studies from our lab implicate 15-LOX2 as a functional tumor suppressor. To better understand the biological role of 15-LOX2 in vivo, we established prostate-specific 15-LOX2 transgenic mice using the ARR2PB promoter. Unexpectedly, transgenic expression of 15-LOX2 or 15-LOX2sv-b, a splice variant that lacks the arachidonic acid metabolizing activity, resulted in age-dependent prostatic hyperplasia and enlargement of the prostate. Prostatic hyperplasia induced by both 15-LOX2 and 15-LOX2sv-b was associated with an increase in luminal and Ki-67+ cells; however, 15-LOX2-transgenic prostates also showed a prominent increase in basal cells. Microarray analysis revealed distinct gene expression profiles that could help explain the prostate phenotypes. Strikingly, 15-LOX2, but not 15-LOX2sv-b, transgenic prostate showed upregulation of several well-known stem/progenitor cell molecules including Sca-1, Trop2, p63, Nkx3.1 and Psca. Prostatic hyperplasia caused by both 15-LOX2 and 15-LOX2sv-b did not progress to prostatic intraprostate neoplasia (PIN) or carcinoma and, mechanistically, prostate lobes (especially those of the 15-LOX2 mice) showed a dramatic increase in senescent cells as revealed by increased SA-βgal, p27Kip1 and HP1γ staining. Collectively, our results suggest that 15-LOX2 expression in mouse prostate leads to hyperplasia and also induces cell senescence, which may, in turn, function as a barrier to tumor development.
PMCID: PMC3042242  PMID: 20514017
15-lipoxygenase 2; prostate; hyperplasia; senescence; tumor suppression; stem cells
16.  Zinc Downregulates HIF-1α and Inhibits Its Activity in Tumor Cells In Vitro and In Vivo 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15048.
Hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is responsible for the majority of HIF-1-induced gene expression changes under hypoxia and for the “angiogenic switch” during tumor progression. HIF-1α is often upregulated in tumors leading to more aggressive tumor growth and chemoresistance, therefore representing an important target for antitumor intervention. We previously reported that zinc downregulated HIF-1α levels. Here, we evaluated the molecular mechanisms of zinc-induced HIF-1α downregulation and whether zinc affected HIF-1α also in vivo.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we report that zinc downregulated HIF-1α protein levels in human prostate cancer and glioblastoma cells under hypoxia, whether induced or constitutive. Investigations into the molecular mechanisms showed that zinc induced HIF-1α proteasomal degradation that was prevented by treatment with proteasomal inhibitor MG132. HIF-1α downregulation induced by zinc was ineffective in human RCC4 VHL-null renal carcinoma cell line; likewise, the HIF-1αP402/P564A mutant was resistant to zinc treatment. Similarly to HIF-1α, zinc downregulated also hypoxia-induced HIF-2α whereas the HIF-1β subunit remained unchanged. Zinc inhibited HIF-1α recruitment onto VEGF promoter and the zinc-induced suppression of HIF-1-dependent activation of VEGF correlated with reduction of glioblastoma and prostate cancer cell invasiveness in vitro. Finally, zinc administration downregulated HIF-1α levels in vivo, by bioluminescence imaging, and suppressed intratumoral VEGF expression.
These findings, by demonstrating that zinc induces HIF-1α proteasomal degradation, indicate that zinc could be useful as an inhibitor of HIF-1α in human tumors to repress important pathways involved in tumor progression, such as those induced by VEGF, MDR1, and Bcl2 target genes, and hopefully potentiate the anticancer therapies.
PMCID: PMC3001454  PMID: 21179202
17.  Lysyl Oxidase May Play a Critical Role in Hypoxia-Induced NSCLC Cells Invasion and Migration 
Lysyl oxidase (LOX), a copper-dependent amine oxidase known to function both intracellularly and extracellularly, is implicated in promoting tumor progression and hypoxic metastasis in certain malignancies. Nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a highly aggressive cancer with poor prognosis worldwide. However, the role and molecular mechanism by which LOX involving in hypoxic NSCLC invasion and migration are poorly understood. This study explores the effect of LOX on invasion and migration of NSCLC cells under hypoxic conditions. Small interfering RNA (siRNA) targeting LOX was used to silence LOX expression of hypoxic NSCLC cells, SPCA1 and A549. Cellular invasive and migratory potentials were determined by matrigel invasion and migration assays. Expression of LOX, Src, Src activation (Tyr418 phosphorylation of Src), and Snail were evaluated by real-time PCR and western blot, respectively. The results showed that LOX mRNA and protein expression were upregulated under hypoxic conditions in NSCLC cells. Knockdown of LOX led to inhibition of hypoxia-induced invasion and migration. Phosphorylated Src (Tyr418) and Snail proteins were decreased along with LOX downregulation. Our data provide molecular evidences that LOX is mechanistically linked to increased invasion and migration of hypoxic NSCLC cells, and may serve as an antimetastasis target of human NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3516423  PMID: 23140307
hypoxia; invasion; lysyl oxidase; migration; nonsmall cell lung cancer; Snail; Src signaling pathway
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.  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
20.  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.
21.  STAT3 and HIF1α cooperatively activate HIF1 target genes in MDA-MB-231 and RCC4 cells 
Oncogene  2013;33(13):1670-1679.
Solid tumors often exhibit simultaneously inflammatory and hypoxic microenvironments. The ‘signal transducer and activator of transcription-3’ (STAT3)-mediated inflammatory response and the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-mediated hypoxia response have been independently shown to promote tumorigenesis through the activation of HIF or STAT3 target genes and to be indicative of a poor prognosis in a variety of tumors. We report here for the first time that STAT3 is involved in the HIF1, but not HIF2-mediated hypoxic transcriptional response. We show that inhibiting STAT3 activity in MDA-MB-231 and RCC4 cells by a STAT3 inhibitor or STAT3 small interfering RNA significantly reduces the levels of HIF1, but not HIF2 target genes in spite of normal levels of hypoxia-inducible transcription factor 1α (HIF1α) and HIF2α protein. Mechanistically, STAT3 activates HIF1 target genes by binding to HIF1 target gene promoters, interacting with HIF1α protein and recruiting coactivators CREB binding protein (CBP) and p300, and RNA polymerase II (Pol II) to form enhanceosome complexes that contain HIF1α, STAT3, CBP, p300 and RNA Pol II on HIF1 target gene promoters. Functionally, the effect of STAT3 knockdown on proliferation, motility and clonogenic survival of tumor cells in vitro is phenocopied by HIF1α knockdown in hypoxic cells, whereas STAT3 knockdown in normoxic cells also reduces cell proliferation, motility and clonogenic survival. This indicates that STAT3 works with HIF1 to activate HIF1 target genes and to drive HIF1-depedent tumorigenesis under hypoxic conditions, but also has HIF-independent activity in normoxic and hypoxic cells. Identifying the role of STAT3 in the hypoxia response provides further data supporting the effectiveness of STAT3 inhibitors in solid tumor treatment owing to their usefulness in inhibiting both the STAT3 and HIF1 pro-tumorigenic signaling pathways in some cancer types.
PMCID: PMC3868635  PMID: 23604114
cotranscriptional activation; HIF; hypoxia; STAT3; transcription
22.  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
23.  A gastrin precursor, gastrin-gly, upregulates VEGF expression in colonic epithelial cells through an HIF-1-independent mechanism 
One of the major angiogenic factor released by tumor cells is VEGF. Its high expression is correlated with poor prognosis in colorectal tumors. In colon cancer, gastrin gene expression is also upregulated. In these tumors, gastrin precursors are mainly produced and act as growth factors. Recently, a study has also shown that the gastrin precursor, G-gly induced in vitro tubules formation by vascular endothelial cells suggesting a potential proangiogenic role. Here, we demonstrate that stimulation of human colorectal cancer cell lines with G-gly increases the expression of the proangiogenic factor VEGF at the mRNA and protein levels. In addition, blocking the progastrin autocrine loop leads to a downregulation of VEGF. Although HIF-1 is a major transcriptional activator for VEGF our results suggest an alternative mechanism for VEGF regulation in normoxic conditions, independent of HIF-1 that involves the PI3K/AKT pathway. Indeed we show that G-gly does not lead to HIF-1 accumulation in colon cancer cells. Moreover, we found that G-gly activates the PI3K/AKT pathway and inhibition of this pathway reverses the effects of G-gly observed on VEGF mRNA and protein levels. In correlation with these results, we observed in vivo, on colon tissue sections from transgenic mice overexpressing G-gly, an increase in VEGF expression in absence of HIF-1 accumulation. In conclusion, our study demonstrates that gastrin precursors, known to promote colon epithelial cells proliferation and survival can also contribute to the angiogenesis process by stimulating the expression of the proangiogenic factor VEGF via the PI3K pathway and independently of hypoxia conditions.
PMCID: PMC3682422  PMID: 19876923
colon cancer; gastrin; intracellular signaling; VEGF
24.  A therapeutic role for targeting c-Myc/Hif-1-dependent signaling pathways 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2010;9(9):1722-1728.
Deregulated c-Myc occurs in ~30% of human cancers. Similarly, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) is commonly overexpressed in a variety of human malignancies. Under physiologic conditions, HIF inhibits c-Myc activity; however, when deregulated oncogenic c-Myc collaborates with HIF in inducing the expression of VEGF, PDK1 and hexokinase 2. Most of the knowledge of HIF derives from studies investigating a role of HIF under hypoxic conditions, however, HIF-1α stabilization is also found in normoxic conditions. Specifically, under hypoxic conditions HIF-1-mediated regulation of oncogenic c-Myc plays a pivotal role in conferring metabolic advantages to tumor cells as well as adaptation to the tumorigenic micromilieu. In addition, our own results show that under normoxic conditions oncogenic c-Myc is required for constitutive high HIF-1 protein levels and activity in Multiple Myeloma (MM) cells, thereby influencing VEGF secretion and angiogenic activity within the bone marrow microenvironment. Further studies are needed to delineate the functional relevance of HIF, MYC, and the HIF-MYC collaboration in MM and other malignancies, also integrating the tumor microenvironment and the cellular context. Importantly, early studies already demonstrate promising preclinical of novel agents, predominantly small molecules, which target c-Myc, HIF or both.
PMCID: PMC3155944  PMID: 20404562
HIF; c-Myc; targeted therapy; tumor microenvironment
25.  Overexpression of MMP-9 and HIF-1α in Breast Cancer Cells under Hypoxic Conditions 
Journal of Breast Cancer  2011;14(2):88-95.
Hypoxia, which is a loss of oxygen in tissues, is a common condition in solid tumors due to the tumor outgrowing existing vasculature. Under hypoxic conditions, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α rapidly accumulates and transactivates hundreds of genes, such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). MMPs contribute to invasion and metastasis of tumor cells by degrading the surrounding basement membrane and extracellular matrix barriers, which enables the easy migration and spread of cancer cells. We examined whether hypoxia increases tumor cell invasion, and whether increased invasiveness was due to HIF-1α and MMP-9 expression.
Transwell invasion assays were performed to demonstrate whether hypoxia enhance tumor invasion by use of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. An immunofluorescence assay was used to demonstrate expression of HIF-1α and MMP-9 under hypoxic conditions. Luciferase and ChiP assays were performed to demonstrate that MMP-9 promoter activity was regulated by HIF-1α.
HIF-1α was stabilized under hypoxic conditions and stimulated MMP-9 expression, which affected the tumor invasiveness of breast cancer cells. HIF-1α transactivated the MMP-9 promoter by forming a transcriptional unit with p300, thus increasing expression of MMP-9 transcripts. Zymography indicated that MMP-9 had more gelatinase activity under hypoxic conditions than normoxic conditions. Furthermore, the small GTPase Ras was also activated in response to hypoxia, which then aids stabilization of HIF-1α, and in turn upregulates MMP-9 expression. We also demonstrate that MMP-9 is upregulated concurrently with HIF-1α in tumor tissues from patients with breast cancer.
These results suggest that HIF-1α promotes cell invasion through a MMP-9-dependent mechanism and that future antitumor agents could be used to target HIF-1α and MMP-9.
PMCID: PMC3148536  PMID: 21847402
Angiogenesis; Breast neoplasms; Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha subunit; Matrix metalloproteinases

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