Inactivation of the von-Hippel Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene occurs in 90% of human clear cell renal cell carcinomas (ccRCC), and leads to the stable expression of the hypoxia inducible factors HIF1α and HIF2α. The constitutive expression of HIF1α in a majority of VHL-deficient tumors is counterintuitive, given that HIF1α functions as a tumor suppressor in ccRCC, whereas HIF2α clearly enhances tumor growth. We demonstrate here that miR-30c-2-3p and miR-30a-3p specifically bind and inhibit expression of HIF2α transcripts, and that the locus encoding miR-30c-2-3p and miR-30a-3p is selectively repressed in “H1H2” VHL-deficient tumors expressing both HIF1α and HIF2α proteins. Inhibiting miR-30a-3p expression increases HIF2α levels in H1H2 ccRCC cells, and promotes cellular proliferation, angiogenesis, and xenograft tumor growth. Our results indicate that miR-30c-2-3p and miR-30a-3p repression enhances HIF2α expression, and suggest a mechanism whereby the tumor suppressive effects of constitutive HIF1α expression are attenuated in VHL-deficient H1H2 tumors.
The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is widely applied across the biosciences, with archaeal Family-B DNA polymerases being preferred, due to their high thermostability and fidelity. The enzyme from Pyrococcus furiosus (Pfu-Pol) is more frequently used than the similar protein from Thermococcus kodakarensis (Tkod-Pol), despite the latter having better PCR performance. Here the two polymerases have been comprehensively compared, confirming that Tkod-Pol: (1) extends primer-templates more rapidly; (2) has higher processivity; (3) demonstrates superior performance in normal and real time PCR. However, Tkod-Pol is less thermostable than Pfu-Pol and both enzymes have equal fidelities. To understand the favorable properties of Tkod-Pol, hybrid proteins have been prepared. Single, double and triple mutations were used to site arginines, present at the “forked-point” (the junction of the exonuclease and polymerase channels) of Tkod-Pol, at the corresponding locations in Pfu-Pol, slightly improving PCR performance. The Pfu-Pol thumb domain, responsible for double-stranded DNA binding, has been entirely replaced with that from Tkod-Pol, again giving better PCR properties. Combining the “forked-point” and thumb swap mutations resulted in a marked increase in PCR capability, maintenance of high fidelity and retention of the superior thermostability associated with Pfu-Pol. However, even the arginine/thumb swap mutant falls short of Tkod-Pol in PCR, suggesting further improvement within the Pfu-Pol framework is attainable. The significance of this work is the observation that improvements in PCR performance are easily attainable by blending elements from closely related archaeal polymerases, an approach that may, in future, be extended by using more polymerases from these organisms.
PCR; Pyrococcus furiosus; Thermococcus kodakarensis; archaeal DNA polymerase; domain swapping; thermostability; fidelity
A significantly improved DNA polymerase fidelity assay, based on a gapped plasmid containing the lacZα reporter gene in a single-stranded region, is described. Nicking at two sites flanking lacZα, and removing the excised strand by thermocycling in the presence of complementary competitor DNA, is used to generate the gap. Simple methods are presented for preparing the single-stranded competitor. The gapped plasmid can be purified, in high amounts and in a very pure state, using benzoylated–naphthoylated DEAE–cellulose, resulting in a low background mutation frequency (∼1 × 10−4). Two key parameters, the number of detectable sites and the expression frequency, necessary for measuring polymerase error rates have been determined. DNA polymerase fidelity is measured by gap filling in vitro, followed by transformation into Escherichia coli and scoring of blue/white colonies and converting the ratio to error rate. Several DNA polymerases have been used to fully validate this straightforward and highly sensitive system.
DNA polymerase; Polymerase fidelity; lacZα reporter gene
Archaeal family-B DNA polymerases bind tightly to deaminated bases and stall replication on encountering uracil in template strands, four bases ahead of the primer-template junction. Should the polymerase progress further towards the uracil, for example, to position uracil only two bases in front of the junction, 3′–5′ proof-reading exonuclease activity becomes stimulated, trimming the primer and re-setting uracil to the +4 position. Uracil sensing prevents copying of the deaminated base and permanent mutation in 50% of the progeny. This publication uses both steady-state and time-resolved 2-aminopurine fluorescence to show pronounced unwinding of primer-templates with Pyrococcus furiosus (Pfu) polymerase–DNA complexes containing uracil at +2; much less strand separation is seen with uracil at +4. DNA unwinding has long been recognized as necessary for proof-reading exonuclease activity. The roles of M247 and Y261, amino acids suggested by structural studies to play a role in primer-template unwinding, have been probed. M247 appears to be unimportant, but 2-aminopurine fluorescence measurements show that Y261 plays a role in primer-template strand separation. Y261 is also required for full exonuclease activity and contributes to the fidelity of the polymerase.
Hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) are broadly expressed in human cancers, and HIF1α and HIF2α were previously suspected of promoting tumor progression through largely overlapping functions. However, this relatively simple model has now been challenged in light of recent data from genome-wide analyses of human tumors, genetically engineered mouse models of cancer, and systems biology approaches that reveal unique and sometimes opposing HIFa activities in both normal physiology and disease. These effects are mediated in part through regulation of unique target genes, as well as direct and indirect interactions with important oncoproteins and tumor suppressors, including MYC and p53. As HIF inhibitors are currently under clinical evaluation as cancer therapeutics, a more thorough understanding of unique roles performed by HIF1α and HIF2α in human neoplasia is warranted. This Review summarizes our rapidly changing understanding of shared and independent HIF1α and HIF2α activities in tumor growth and progression, and the implications for using selective HIF inhibitors as cancer therapeutics.
Localized tissue hypoxia is a consequence of vascular compromise or rapid cellular proliferation and is a potent inducer of compensatory angiogenesis. The oxygen-responsive transcriptional regulator hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF-2α) is highly expressed in vascular ECs and, along with HIF-1α, activates expression of target genes whose products modulate vascular functions and angiogenesis. However, the mechanisms by which HIF-2α regulates EC function and tissue perfusion under physiological and pathological conditions are poorly understood. Using mice in which Hif2a was specifically deleted in ECs, we demonstrate here that HIF-2α expression is required for angiogenic responses during hindlimb ischemia and for the growth of autochthonous skin tumors. EC-specific Hif2a deletion resulted in increased vessel formation in both models; however, these vessels failed to undergo proper arteriogenesis, resulting in poor perfusion. Analysis of cultured HIF-2α–deficient ECs revealed cell-autonomous increases in migration, invasion, and morphogenetic activity, which correlated with HIF-2α–dependent expression of specific angiogenic factors, including delta-like ligand 4 (Dll4), a Notch ligand, and angiopoietin 2. By stimulating Dll4 signaling in cultured ECs or restoring Dll4 expression in ischemic muscle tissue, we rescued most of the HIF-2α–dependent EC phenotypes in vitro and in vivo, emphasizing the critical role of Dll4/Notch signaling as a downstream target of HIF-2α in ECs. These results indicate that HIF-1α and HIF-2α fulfill complementary, but largely nonoverlapping, essential functions in pathophysiological angiogenesis.
Oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia, has profound effects on cell metabolism and growth. Cells can adapt to low O2 in part through activation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF). We report here that hypoxia inhibits mRNA translation by suppressing multiple key regulators including eIF2α, eEF2, and the mTOR effectors 4EBP1, p70S6K, and rpS6, independent of HIF. Hypoxia results in energy starvation and activation of the AMPK/TSC2/Rheb/mTOR pathway. Hypoxic AMPK activation also leads to eEF2 inhibition. Moreover, hypoxic effects on cellular bioenergetics and mTOR inhibition increase over time. Mutation of the TSC2 tumor suppressor gene confers a growth advantage to cells by repressing hypoxic mTOR inhibition and hypoxia-induced G1 arrest. Together, eIF2α, eEF2 and mTOR inhibition represent important HIF-independent mechanisms of energy conservation which promote survival under low O2 conditions.
Hypoxia; mTOR; eIF2; eEF2; AMPK; TSC2; Rheb
Severely hypoxic regions in tumors result from a combination of rapid cell division and aberrant angiogenesis. The Hypoxia Inducible Factors (HIFs) mediate transcriptional responses to localized hypoxia in normal tissues and in cancers, and can promote tumor progression by altering cellular metabolism and stimulating angiogenesis. Recently, HIFs have been shown to stimulate specific signaling pathways and transcription factors, including Notch and Oct4, that control stem cell self-renewal and multipotency. As many cancers are thought to develop from a small number of transformed, self-renewing and multipotent “cancer stem cells”, these results suggest new roles for HIFs in tumor progression.
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.
Low levels of oxygen (O2) occur naturally in developing embryos. Cells respond to their hypoxic microenvironment by stimulating several hypoxia-inducible factors (and other molecules that mediate O2 homeostasis), which then coordinate the development of the blood, vasculature, placenta, nervous system, and other organs. Furthermore, embryonic stem and progenitor cells frequently occupy hypoxic ‘niches’ and low O2 regulates their differentiation. Recent work has revealed an important link between factors involved in regulating stem/progenitor cell behaviour and hypoxia-inducible factors, which provides a molecular framework for hypoxic control of differentiation and cell fate. These findings have important implications for the development of therapies for tissue regeneration and disease.
In mammals, the liver integrates nutrient uptake and delivery of carbohydrates and lipids to peripheral tissues to control overall energy balance. Hepatocytes maintain metabolic homeostasis by coordinating gene expression programs in response to dietary and systemic signals. Hepatic tissue oxygenation is an important systemic signal that contributes to normal hepatocyte function as well as disease. Hypoxia-inducible factors 1 and 2 (HIF-1 and HIF-2, respectively) are oxygen-sensitive heterodimeric transcription factors, which act as key mediators of cellular adaptation to low oxygen. Previously, we have shown that HIF-2 plays an important role in both physiologic and pathophysiologic processes in the liver. HIF-2 is essential for normal fetal EPO production and erythropoiesis, while constitutive HIF-2 activity in the adult results in polycythemia and vascular tumorigenesis. Here we report a novel role for HIF-2 in regulating hepatic lipid metabolism. We found that constitutive activation of HIF-2 in the adult results in the development of severe hepatic steatosis associated with impaired fatty acid β-oxidation, decreased lipogenic gene expression, and increased lipid storage capacity. These findings demonstrate that HIF-2 functions as an important regulator of hepatic lipid metabolism and identify HIF-2 as a potential target for the treatment of fatty liver disease.
VHL tumor suppressor loss results in hypoxia inducible factor-alpha (HIF-α) stabilization, and occurs in 70% of sporadic clear cell renal carcinomas (ccRCCs). To determine whether opposing influences of HIF-1α and HIF-2α on c-Myc activity regulate human ccRCC progression, we analyzed VHL genotype and HIF-α expression in 160 primary tumors, which segregated into three groups with distinct molecular characteristics. Interestingly, ccRCCs with intact VHL, as well as pVHL-deficient, HIF-1α/HIF-2α expressing ccRCCs, exhibited enhanced Akt/mTOR and ERK/MAPK signaling. In contrast, pVHL-deficient ccRCCs expressing only HIF-2α displayed elevated c-Myc activity, resulting in enhanced proliferation and resistance to replication stress. These reproducible distinctions in ccRCC behavior delineate HIF-α effects on c-Myc in vivo and suggest molecular criteria for selecting targeted therapies.
Constitutive HIF activity is clearly associated with ccRCC tumorigenesis; however, the influence of individual HIF-α subunits on cell growth mechanisms in vivo is unknown. Few dominant oncogenic pathways have been identified within ccRCC, making it difficult to select optimal targeted therapies for patients, or to predict disease outcome, except by grade and stage. Cell culture experiments indicate that HIF-1α inhibits the c-Myc oncoprotein, whereas HIF-2α potentiates c-Myc transcriptional activity and cellular proliferation. The findings reported here indicate that HIF-1α and HIF-2α promote distinct oncogene activation in human ccRCCs, and reveal a critical role for HIF-2α and c-Myc in promoting genomic integrity. These results suggest that evaluating pVHL status and HIF-α expression may aid targeted therapy selection for human ccRCCs.
HIF transcription factors (HIF-1 and HIF-2) are central mediators of cellular adaptation to hypoxia. Because the resting partial pressure of oxygen is low in the intestinal lumen, epithelial cells are believed to be mildly hypoxic. Having recently established a link between HIF and the iron-regulatory hormone hepcidin, we hypothesized that HIFs, stabilized in the hypoxic intestinal epithelium, may also play critical roles in regulating intestinal iron absorption. To explore this idea, we first established that the mouse duodenum, the site of iron absorption in the intestine, is hypoxic and generated conditional knockout mice that lacked either Hif1a or Hif2a specifically in the intestinal epithelium. Using these mice, we found that HIF-1α was not necessary for iron absorption, whereas HIF-2α played a crucial role in maintaining iron balance in the organism by directly regulating the transcription of the gene encoding divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1), the principal intestinal iron transporter. Specific deletion of Hif2a led to a decrease in serum and liver iron levels and a marked decrease in liver hepcidin expression, indicating the involvement of an induced systemic response to counteract the iron deficiency. This finding may provide a basis for the development of new strategies, specifically in targeting HIF-2α, to improve iron homeostasis in patients with iron disorders.
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.
Elevated activity of the eIF4F complex, which controls initiation of cap-dependent mRNA translation, has been linked to cancer progression. eIF4E recruitment to eIF4F is the rate limiting step of complex assembly and is regulated by eIF4E-Binding Proteins (4E-BPs). When stimulated, the mammalian Target of Rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) phosphorylates 4E-BP1, which then releases eIF4E. Hypoxia inhibits mTORC1 activity and therefore cap-dependent protein synthesis. To establish a novel genetic test of the role of eIF4F activity in regulating cell division and viability within hypoxic tumor microenvironments, we generated shRNA mediated 4E-BP1 knock-down in Rh30 rhabdomyosarcoma cells. 4E-BP1 knock-down relieved hypoxia-mediated inhibition of cycle progression in vitro and was correlated with increased expression of cyclin D1 and c-Myc. Xenograft tumors derived from these cells also displayed enhanced expression of cyclin D1 and c-Myc along with antiapoptotic genes encoding Bcl-xL, and XIAP, and failed to develop the extensive necrotic zones and edema observed in control tumors. Surprisingly, 4E-BP1 knock-down also leads to a dramatic increase in aberrant mitoses in vivo and enhanced expression of Mad2 and securin. Thus, reduced expression of the negative regulator of eIF4E has significant effects on tumor development, and is associated with enhanced cell proliferation and survival.
How cells die in the absence of oxygen (anoxia) is not understood. Here we report that cells deficient in Bax and Bak or caspase-9 do not undergo anoxia-induced cell death. However, the caspase-9 null cells do not survive reoxygenation due to the generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species. The individual loss of Bim, Bid, Puma, Noxa, Bad, caspase-2, or hypoxia-inducible factor 1β, which are potential upstream regulators of Bax or Bak, did not prevent anoxia-induced cell death. Anoxia triggered the loss of the Mcl-1 protein upstream of Bax/Bak activation. Cells containing a mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b 4-base-pair deletion ([rho−] cells) and cells depleted of their entire mitochondrial DNA ([rho0] cells) are oxidative phosphorylation incompetent and displayed loss of the Mcl-1 protein under anoxia. [rho0] cells, in contrast to [rho−] cells, did not die under anoxia. However, [rho0] cells did undergo cell death in the presence of the Bad BH3 peptide, an inhibitor of Bcl-XL/Bcl-2 proteins. These results indicate that [rho0] cells survive under anoxia despite the loss of Mcl-1 protein due to residual prosurvival activity of the Bcl-XL/Bcl-2 proteins. Collectively, these results demonstrate that anoxia-induced cell death requires the loss of Mcl-1 protein and inhibition of the electron transport chain to negate Bcl-XL/Bcl-2 proteins.
Erythropoiesis is critically dependent on erythropoietin (EPO), a glycoprotein hormone that is regulated by hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF). Hepatocytes are the primary source of extrarenal EPO in the adult and express HIF-1 and HIF-2, whose roles in the hypoxic induction of EPO remain controversial. In order to define the role of HIF-1 and HIF-2 in the regulation of hepatic EPO expression, we have generated mice with conditional inactivation of Hif-1α and/or Hif-2α (Epas1) in hepatocytes. We have previously shown that inactivation of the von Hippel–Lindau tumor suppressor pVHL, which targets both HIFs for proteasomal degradation, results in increased hepatic Epo production and polycythemia independent of Hif-1α. Here we show that conditional inactivation of Hif-2α in pVHL-deficient mice suppressed hepatic Epo and the development of polycythemia. Furthermore, we found that physiological Epo expression in infant livers required Hif-2α but not Hif-1α and that the hypoxic induction of liver Epo in anemic adults was Hif-2α dependent. Since other Hif target genes such phosphoglycerate kinase 1 (Pgk) were Hif-1α dependent, we provide genetic evidence that HIF-1 and HIF-2 have distinct roles in the regulation of hypoxia-inducible genes and that EPO is preferentially regulated by HIF-2 in the liver.
Transcriptional responses to hypoxia are primarily mediated by hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), a heterodimer of HIF-α and the aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator subunits. The HIF-1α and HIF-2α subunits are structurally similar in their DNA binding and dimerization domains but differ in their transactivation domains, implying they may have unique target genes. Previous studies using Hif-1α−/− embryonic stem and mouse embryonic fibroblast cells show that loss of HIF-1α eliminates all oxygen-regulated transcriptional responses analyzed, suggesting that HIF-2α is dispensable for hypoxic gene regulation. In contrast, HIF-2α has been shown to regulate some hypoxia-inducible genes in transient transfection assays and during embryonic development in the lung and other tissues. To address this discrepancy, and to identify specific HIF-2α target genes, we used DNA microarray analysis to evaluate hypoxic gene induction in cells expressing HIF-2α but not HIF-1α. In addition, we engineered HEK293 cells to express stabilized forms of HIF-1α or HIF-2α via a tetracycline-regulated promoter. In this first comparative study of HIF-1α and HIF-2α target genes, we demonstrate that HIF-2α does regulate a variety of broadly expressed hypoxia-inducible genes, suggesting that its function is not restricted, as initially thought, to endothelial cell-specific gene expression. Importantly, HIF-1α (and not HIF-2α) stimulates glycolytic gene expression in both types of cells, clearly showing for the first time that HIF-1α and HIF-2α have unique targets.