Loss of function in the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene occurs in familial and most sporadic renal cell carcinomas (RCCs). VHL has been linked to the regulation of cell cycle cessation (G0) and to control of expression of various mRNAs such as for vascular endothelial growth factor. RCC cells express the Met receptor tyrosine kinase, and Met mediates invasion and branching morphogenesis in many cell types in response to hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF). We examined the HGF/SF responsiveness of RCC cells containing endogenous mutated (mut) forms of the VHL protein (VHL-negative RCC) with that of isogenic cells expressing exogenous wild-type (wt) VHL (VHL-positive RCC). We found that VHL-negative 786-0 and UOK-101 RCC cells were highly invasive through growth factor-reduced (GFR) Matrigel-coated filters and exhibited an extensive branching morphogenesis phenotype in response to HGF/SF in the three-dimensional (3D) GFR Matrigel cultures. In contrast, the phenotypes of A498 VHL-negative RCC cells were weaker, and isogenic RCC cells ectopically expressing wt VHL did not respond at all. We found that all VHL-negative RCC cells expressed reduced levels of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 2 (TIMP-2) relative to the wt VHL-positive cells, implicating VHL in the regulation of this molecule. However, consistent with the more invasive phenotype of the 786-0 and UOK-101 VHL-negative RCC cells, the levels of TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 were reduced and levels of the matrix metalloproteinases 2 and 9 were elevated compared to the noninvasive VHL-positive RCC cells. Moreover, recombinant TIMPs completely blocked HGF/SF-mediated branching morphogenesis, while neutralizing antibodies to the TIMPs stimulated HGF/SF-mediated invasion in vitro. Thus, the loss of the VHL tumor suppressor gene is central to changes that control tissue invasiveness, and a more invasive phenotype requires additional genetic changes seen in some but not all RCC lines. These studies also demonstrate a synergy between the loss of VHL function and Met signaling.
Thalidomide-like drugs such as lenalidomide are clinically important treatments for multiple myeloma and show promise for other B cell malignancies. The biochemical mechanisms underlying their antitumor activity are unknown. Thalidomide was recently shown to bind to, and inhibit, the cereblon ubiquitin ligase. Cereblon loss in zebrafish causes fin defects reminiscent of the limb defects seen in children exposed to thalidomide in utero. Here we show that lenalidomide-bound cereblon acquires the ability to target for proteasomal degradation two specific B cell transcription factors, Ikaros family zinc finger proteins 1 and 3 (IKZF1 and IKZF3). Analysis of myeloma cell lines revealed that loss of IKZF1 and IKZF3 is both necessary and sufficient for lenalidomide's therapeutic effect, suggesting that the antitumor and teratogenic activities of thalidomide-like drugs are dissociable.
IDH1 and IDH2 (Isocitrate Dehydrogenase 1 and 2) mutants are common in several cancers, including leukemias, and overproduce the (R)-enantiomer of 2-hydroxyglutarate [(R)-2-HG]. Elucidating the role of IDH mutations and (R)-2-HG in leukemogenesis has been hampered by a lack of appropriate cell-based models. Here we show that a canonical IDH1 mutant, IDH1 R132H, promotes cytokine-independence and blocks differentiation in hematopoietic cells. These effects can be recapitulated by (R)-2-HG, but not (S)-2-HG, despite the fact that (S)-2-HG more potently inhibits enzymes previously linked to the pathogenesis of IDH mutant tumors, such as TET2 (Ten Eleven Translocation 2). We provide evidence that this paradox relates to the ability of (S)-2-HG, but not (R)-2-HG, to inhibit the EglN (Egg-laying Defective Nine) prolyl hydroxylases and, importantly, show that transformation by (R)-2-HG is reversible.
Chemical modifications of histones and DNA, such as histone methylation, histone acetylation, and DNA methylation, play critical roles in epigenetic gene regulation. Many of the enzymes that add or remove such chemical modifications are known, or might be suspected, to be sensitive to changes in intracellular metabolism. This knowledge provides a conceptual foundation for understanding how mutations in the metabolic enzymes SDH, FH, and IDH can result in cancer and, more broadly, for how alterations in metabolism and nutrition might contribute to disease. Here, we review literature pertinent to hypothetical connections between metabolic and epigenetic states in eukaryotic cells.
The evolutionarily conserved protein COP1 has been shown to operate as an E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, and a number of putative substrates have been identified, including the c-JUN oncoprotein and p53 tumor suppressor protein. New work by Migliorini and colleagues described in the current issue of JCI demonstrates that COP1 acts as a tumor suppressor in vivo and does so, at least in part, by promoting the destruction of c-JUN. These findings challenge the view that COP1 regulates p53 stability and call into question the wisdom of developing COP1 inhibitors as potential anticancer agents.
Inactivation of the VHL tumor suppressor protein (pVHL) is a common event in clear cell renal carcinoma, which is the most common form of kidney cancer. pVHL performs many functions, including serving as the substrate recognition module of an ubiquitin ligase complex that targets the alpha subunits of the heterodimeric HIF transcription factor for proteasomal degradation. Deregulation of HIF2α appears to be a driving force in pVHL-defective clear cell renal carcinomas. In contrast, genetic and functional studies suggest that HIF1α serves as a tumor suppressor and is a likely target of the 14q deletions that are characteristic of this tumor type. Drugs that inhibit HIF2α, or its downstream targets such as VEGF, are in various stages of clinical testing. Indeed, clear cell renal carcinomas are exquisitely sensitive to VEGF deprivation and four VEGF inhibitors have now been approved for the treatment of this disease.
Kidney Cancer; von-Hippel-Lindau; hypoxia; angiogenesis; VEGF
The identification of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH), fumarate hydratase (FH), and isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) mutations in human cancers has rekindled the idea that altered cellular metabolism can transform cells. Inactivating SDH and FH mutations cause the accumulation of succinate and fumarate, respectively, which can inhibit 2-oxoglutarate (2-OG)-dependent enzymes, including the EglN prolyl 4-hydroxylases that mark the HIF transcription factor for polyubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation 1. Inappropriate HIF activation is suspected of contributing to the pathogenesis of SDH-defective and FH-defective tumors but can suppress tumor growth in some other contexts. IDH1 and IDH2, which catalyze the interconversion of isocitrate and 2-OG, are frequently mutated in human brain tumors and leukemias. The resulting mutants display the neomorphic ability to convert 2-OG to the R-enantiomer of 2-hydroxyglutarate (R-2HG) 2, 3. Here we show that R-2HG, but not S-2HG, stimulates EglN activity leading to diminished HIF levels, which enhances the proliferation and soft agar growth of human astrocytes.
Kidney cancer is one of the 10 most common forms of cancer in both men and women. Ninety percent or more of these cancers are believed to be of epithelial cell origin, and are referred to as renal cell carcinoma (RCC). RCCs can be further subdivided, based on their histologic appearance, into clear-cell renal carcinomas (~75%), papillary renal carcinomas (15%), chromophobe tumors (5%), and oncocytomas (5%).1,2 Studies of hereditary kidney cancer families led to the identification of genes that, when mutated in the germline, confer an increased risk of these various histologic RCC subtypes and hence a glimpse at the molecular circuits that are deregulated in these different forms of RCC.2 In practice, there is some overlap among the histologic subtypes (eg, a tumor with predominantly clear-cell features might contain areas more typical of papillary RCC). Similarly, there are some shared molecular features among these tumor types (see later discussion). This review focuses primarily on the most common form of RCC, clear-cell renal carcinoma, while making note of some recent advances in the other histologic subtypes.
Renal cell carcinoma; Clear-cell renal carcinoma; Hypoxia-inducible factor; HIF-responsive gene products
This report describes clinical characteristics in families with a Type 2A phenotype and functional properties of a novel von Hippel Lindau variant (X214L).
Pedigrees were analyzed. Analysis of VHL coding exons and flanking intronic sequences in DNA from a proband with pheochromocytoma and islet cell tumor was performed. Western blot assays for pVHL, HIFα and Jun B were conducted using VHL null renal clear carcinoma cell lines that were engineered to produce wild type or X214L mutant pVHL.
Pedigree analysis indicated that the variant tracked with disease. The same or similar VHL point mutations were identified in several Type 2A families. The predicted 14 amino acid extended pVHL variant, when reintroduced into VHL null cells, was stable and retained the ability to downregulate HIFα in a hydroxylation-dependent manner. In contrast, the variant was defective with respect to downregulation of JunB.
pVHL X214L, like other pVHL variants associated with a low risk of clear cell renal carcinoma, largely preserves the ability to downregulate HIF. In contrast, this variant, like other pVHL variants linked to Type 2A disease, fails to suppress JunB. This underscores that JunB may play a role in the pathogenesis of Type 2A VHL disease.
germ-line mutation; HIF; Jun B; neuroendocrine; pheochromocytoma; von Hippel Lindau
Kidney cancers often delete chromosome 3p, spanning the VHL tumor suppressor gene, and chromosome 14q, which presumably harbors one or more tumor suppressor genes. pVHL inhibits the HIF transcription factor and HIF2α is a kidney cancer oncoprotein. Here we identify focal, homozygous, deletions of the HIF1α locus on 14q in clear cell renal carcinoma cell lines. Wild-type HIF1α, but not the products of these altered loci, suppress renal carcinoma growth. Conversely, downregulation of HIF1α in HIF1α-proficient lines promote tumor growth. HIF1α activity is diminished in 14q deleted kidney cancers and all of the somatic HIF1α mutations identified in kidney cancers tested to date are loss of function. Therefore HIF1α has the credentials of a kidney cancer suppressor gene.
14q deletion; HIF1α; kidney cancer; tumor suppression; von Hippel-Lindau; hypoxia
Mdm2 is the major negative regulator of the p53 pathway. Here we report that Mdm2 is rapidly degraded after DNA damage and that phosphorylation of Mdm2 by Casein Kinase I (CKI) at multiple sites triggers its interaction with, and subsequent ubiquitination and destruction, by SCFβ-TRCP. Inactivation of either β-TRCP or CKI results in accumulation of Mdm2 and decreased p53 activity, and resistance to apoptosis induced by DNA damaging-agents. Moreover, SCFβ-TRCP-dependent Mdm2 turnover also contributes to the control of repeated p53 pulses in response to persistent DNA damage. Our results provide insight into the signaling pathways controlling Mdm2 destruction and further suggest that compromised regulation of Mdm2 results in attenuated p53 activity, thereby facilitating tumor progression.
The multi-subunit Sin3 co-repressor complex regulates gene transcription through deacetylation of nucleosomes. However, the full range of Sin3 activities and targets is not well understood. Here, we have investigated genome-wide binding of mouse Sin3 and RBP2 as well as histone modifications and nucleosome positioning as a function of myogenic differentiation. Remarkably, we find that Sin3 complexes spread immediately downstream of the transcription start site on repressed and transcribed genes during differentiation. We show that RBP2 is part of a Sin3 complex, and on a subset of E2F4 target genes, the coordinated activity of Sin3 and RBP2 leads to deacetylation, demethylation, and repositioning of nucleosomes. Our work provides evidence for coordinated binding of Sin3, chromatin modifications, and chromatin remodeling within discrete regulatory regions, suggesting a model in which spreading of Sin3 binding is ultimately linked to permanent gene silencing on a subset of E2F4 target genes.
Ischemic cardiomyopathy is the major cause of heart failure and a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. The degree of left ventricular dysfunction in this setting is often out of proportion to the amount of overtly infarcted tissue and how decreased delivery of oxygen and nutrients leads to impaired contractility remains incompletely understood. The PHD prolyl hydroxylases are oxygen-sensitive enzymes that transduce changes in oxygen availability into changes in the stability of the HIF transcription factor, a master regulator of genes that promote survival in a low oxygen-environment.
Methods and Results
We found that cardiac-specific PHD inactivation causes ultrastructural, histological, and functional changes reminiscent of ischemic cardiomyopathy over time. Moreover, chronic expression of a stabilized HIFα variant in cardiomyocytes also led to dilated cardiomyopathy.
Sustained loss of PHD activity and subsequent HIF activation, as would occur in the setting of chronic ischemia, is sufficient to account for many of the changes in the hearts of individuals with chronic coronary artery disease.
cardiomyopathy; hibernation; hypoxia; ischemia; myocardium
Germline mutations in the von Hippel–Lindau disease (VHL) and succinate dehydrogenase subunit B (SDHB) genes can cause inherited phaeochromocytoma and/or renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Dysregulation of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) transcription factors has been linked to VHL and SDHB-related RCC; both HIF dysregulation and disordered function of a prolyl hydroxylase domain isoform 3 (PHD3/EGLN3)-related pathway of neuronal apoptosis have been linked to the development of phaeochromocytoma. The 2-oxoglutarate-dependent prolyl hydroxylase enzymes PHD1 (EGLN2), PHD2 (EGLN1) and PHD3 (EGLN3) have a key role in regulating the stability of HIF-α subunits (and hence expression of the HIF-α transcription factors). A germline PHD2 mutation has been reported in association with congenital erythrocytosis and recurrent extra-adrenal phaeochromocytoma. We undertook mutation analysis of PHD1, PHD2 and PHD3 in two cohorts of patients with features of inherited phaeochromocytoma (n=82) and inherited RCC (n=64) and no evidence of germline mutations in known susceptibility genes. No confirmed pathogenic mutations were detected suggesting that mutations in these genes are not a frequent cause of inherited phaeochromocytoma or RCC.
The challenge in medical oncology has always been to identify compounds that will kill, or at least tame, cancer cells while leaving normal cells unscathed. Most chemotherapeutic agents in use today were selected primarily for their ability to kill rapidly dividing cancer cells grown in cell culture and in mice, with their selectivity determined empirically during subsequent animal and human testing. Unfortunately, most of the drugs developed in this way have relatively low therapeutic indices (low toxic dose relative to the therapeutic dose). Recent advances in genomics are leading to a more complete picture of the range of mutations, both driver and passenger, present in human cancers. Synthetic lethality provides a conceptual framework for using this information to arrive at drugs that will preferentially kill cancer cells relative to normal cells. It also provides a possible way to tackle 'undruggable' targets. Two genes are synthetically lethal if mutation of either gene alone is compatible with viability but simultaneous mutation of both genes leads to death. If one is a cancer-relevant gene, the task is to discover its synthetic lethal interactors, because targeting these would theoretically kill cancer cells mutant in the cancer-relevant gene while sparing cells with a normal copy of that gene. All cancer drugs in use today, including conventional cytotoxic agents and newer 'targeted' agents, target molecules that are present in both normal cells and cancer cells. Their therapeutic indices almost certainly relate to synthetic lethal interactions, even if those interactions are often poorly understood. Recent technical advances enable unbiased screens for synthetic lethal interactors to be undertaken in human cancer cells. These approaches will hopefully facilitate the discovery of safer, more efficacious anticancer drugs that exploit vulnerabilities that are unique to cancer cells by virtue of the mutations they have accrued during tumor progression.
The Third Cambridge Conference on Innovations and Challenges in Renal Cancer, a symposium held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, June 27–28, 2008, and chaired by Michael B. Atkins, was convened to discuss the current state of knowledge in the field, critique new data, stimulate communication among those involved in basic and clinical research, and offer recommendations for further study. Four main topics were discussed: genetics and molecular biology of renal cell cancer, staging and prognosis, systemic therapy, and correlative science and biomarkers in stage IV disease. The conference format combined brief presentations with extended periods of discussion. The conclusions and recommendations are summarized in this paper and presented in more detail in the individual papers that follow.
renal cancer; genetics; molecular biology; staging; prognosis; systemic therapy; correlative science; biomarkers
Recent insights into the role of the VHL tumor suppressor gene in hereditary and sporadic clear cell carcinoma of the kidney (ccRCC) have led to new treatments for patients with metastatic ccRCC, although virtually all patients eventually succumb to the disease. We performed an integrated, genome-wide analysis of copy-number changes and gene expression profiles in 90 tumors, including both sporadic and VHL disease-associated tumors, in hopes of identifying new therapeutic targets in ccRCC. We identified 14 regions of nonrandom copy-number change, including 7 regions of amplification (1q, 2q, 5q, 7q, 8q, 12p, and 20q) and 7 regions of deletion (1p, 3p, 4q, 6q, 8p, 9p, and 14q). An analysis aimed at identifying the relevant genes revealed VHL as one of 3 genes in the 3p deletion peak, CDKN2A and CDKN2B as the only genes in the 9p deletion peak, and MYC as the only gene in the 8q amplification peak. An integrated analysis to identify genes in amplification peaks that are consistently overexpressed among amplified samples confirmed MYC as a potential target of 8q amplification and identified candidate oncogenes in the other regions. A comparison of genomic profiles revealed that VHL disease-associated tumors are similar to a subgroup of sporadic tumors, and thus more homogeneous overall. Sporadic tumors without evidence of biallelic VHL inactivation fell into 2 groups: one group with genomic profiles highly dissimilar to the majority of ccRCC, and a second group with genomic profiles that are much more similar to tumors with biallelic inactivation of VHL.
Renal cancer; VHL; oncogenes; chromosomal changes; SNP arrays
2-Oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases, including the EglN prolyl hydroxylases that regulate HIF, can be inhibited with drug-like molecules. EglN2 is estrogen-inducible in breast carcinoma cells and the lone Drosophila EglN interacts genetically with Cyclin D1. Although EglN2 is a non-essential gene we found that EglN2 inactivation decreases Cyclin D1 levels and suppresses mammary gland proliferation in vivo. Regulation of Cyclin D1 is a specific attribute of EglN2 among the EglN proteins and is HIF-independent. Loss of EglN2 catalytic activity inhibits estrogen-dependent breast cancer tumorigenesis and can be rescued by exogenous Cyclin D1. EglN2 depletion also impairs the fitness of lung, brain, and hematopoietic cancer lines. These findings support the exploration of EglN2 inhibitors as therapeutics for estrogen-dependent breast cancer and other malignancies.
Cyclin D1 plays an important role in many cancers, including breast cancer. The observations described herein predict that inhibiting EglN2 catalytic activity will diminish Cyclin D1 levels in cancer cells and impair their ability to proliferate in vivo. Notably, EglN2 is estrogen-inducible and loss of either EglN2 or Cyclin D1 leads to mammary gland hypoproliferation. Therefore the relationship between EglN2 and Cyclin D1 might be especially relevant in hormone-sensitive breast cancer, where new therapies are needed for women who become refractory to estrogen antagonists. EglN2 appears to be an attractive drug target because EglN2 is not essential in mammals and it has already been established that enzymes of this class can be inhibited with drug-like small organic molecules.
Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), consisting of a labile α subunit and a stable β subunit, is a master regulator of hypoxia-responsive mRNAs. HIFα undergoes oxygen-dependent prolyl hydroxylation, which marks it for polyubiquitination by a complex containing the von Hippel-Lindau protein (pVHL). Among the three Phd family members, Phd2 appears to be the primary HIF prolyl hydroxylase. Phd3 is induced by HIF and, based on findings from in vitro studies, may participate in a HIF-regulatory feedback loop. Here, we report that Phd3 loss exacerbates the HIF activation, hepatic steatosis, dilated cardiomyopathy, and premature mortality observed in mice lacking Phd2 alone and produces a closer phenocopy of the changes seen in mice lacking pVHL than the loss of Phd2 alone. Importantly, the degree to which Phd3 can compensate for Phd2 loss and the degree to which the combined loss of Phd2 and Phd3 resembles pVHL loss appear to differ for different HIF-responsive genes and in different tissues. These findings highlight that the responses of different HIF target genes to changes in prolyl hydroxylase activity differ, quantitatively and qualitatively, in vivo and have implications for the development of paralog-specific prolyl hydroxylase inhibitors as therapeutic agents.
The VHL tumor suppressor protein (pVHL) is part of an E3 ubiquitin ligase that targets HIF for destruction. pVHL-defective renal carcinoma cells exhibit increased NF-κB activity but the mechanism is unclear. NF-κB affects tumorigenesis and therapeutic resistance in some settings. We found that pVHL associates with the NF-κB agonist Card9 but does not target Card9 for destruction. Instead, pVHL serves as an adaptor that promotes the phosphorylation of the Card9 C-terminus by CK2. Elimination of these sites markedly enhanced Card9's ability to activate NF-κB in VHL+/+ cells and Card9 siRNA normalized NF-κB activity in VHL−/− cells and restored their sensitivity to cytokine-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, downregulation of Card9 in VHL−/− cancer cells reduced their tumorigenic potential. Therefore pVHL can serve as an adaptor for both an ubiquitin conjugating enzyme and for a kinase. The latter activity, which promotes Card9 phosphorylation, links pVHL to control of NF-κB activity and tumorigenesis.
Clear cell carcinoma of the kidney is a major cause of mortality in patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease, which is caused by germ line mutations that inactivate the VHL tumor suppressor gene. Biallelic VHL inactivation, due to mutations or hypermethylation, is also common in sporadic clear cell renal carcinomas. The VHL gene product, pVHL, is part of a ubiquitin ligase complex that targets the alpha subunits of the heterodimeric transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) for destruction under well-oxygenated conditions. All VHL mutations linked to classical VHL disease compromise this pVHL function although some missense mutations result in a low risk of kidney cancer (type 2A VHL disease) while others result in a high risk (type 2B VHL disease). We found that type 2A mutants were less defective than type 2B mutants when reintroduced into VHL−/− renal carcinoma cells with respect to HIF regulation. A stabilized version of HIF2α promoted tumor growth by VHL−/− cells engineered to produce type 2A mutants, while knock-down of HIF2α in cells producing type 2B mutants had the opposite effect. Therefore, quantitative differences with respect to HIF deregulation are sufficient to account for the differential risks of kidney cancer linked to VHL mutations.