Mechanism of HIF-1alpha-dependent suppression of hypoxia-induced apoptosis in squamous cell carcinoma cells.Cancer Sci. 2005 Jul; 96(7):394-402.CS
The transcriptional factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) plays an important role in solid tumor cell growth and survival. Overexpression of HIF-1alpha has been demonstrated in many human tumors and predicts a poor response to chemoradiotherapy. We examined the HIF-1alpha-induced survival pathways in human oral squamous cell carcinoma cell (OSCC) lines. The results showed that forced expression of HIF-1alpha suppressed hypoxia-induced apoptosis of OSCC lines by inhibiting cytochrome c release from mitochondria. Overexpression of HIF-1alpha inhibited the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), elevation of intracellular Ca(2+) concentration, reduction of mitochondrial membrane potential, and cytosolic accumulation of cytochrome c, which resulted in the inactivation of caspase-9 and caspase-3. In addition, antiapoptotic Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L) levels were increased and pro-apoptotic Bax and Bak levels were decreased in the HIF-1alpha-overexpressing OSCC line. Overexpression of HIF-1alpha also increased the levels of phosphorylation of Akt and extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK). These findings indicate that HIF-1alpha prevents apoptotic cell death through two mechanisms, including inhibition of cytochrome c release and activation of Akt and ERK.