Anoxic induction of ATF-4 through HIF-1-independent pathways of protein stabilization in human cancer cells.
Ameri K., Lewis CE., Raida M., Sowter H., Hai T., Harris AL.
Hypoxia is a key factor in tumor development, contributing to angiogenesis and radiotherapy resistance. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a major transcription factor regulating the response of cancer cells to hypoxia. However, tumors also contain areas of more severe oxygen depletion, or anoxia. Mechanisms for survival under anoxia are HIF-1alpha independent in Caenorhabditis elegans and, thus, differ from the hypoxic response. Here we report a differential response of cancer cells to hypoxia and anoxia by demonstrating the induction of activating transcription factor-4 (ATF-4) and growth arrest DNA damage 153 (GADD153) protein specifically in anoxia and the lack of induction in hypoxia. By applying RNAi, ATF-4 induction in anoxia was shown to be independent of HIF-1alpha, and desferrioxamine mesylate (DFO) and cobalt chloride induced HIF-1alpha but not ATF-4 or GADD153. Furthermore, the inductive response of ATF-4 and GADD153 was not related to alterations in or arrest of mitochondrial respiration and was independent of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease mutations. In reoxygenated anoxic cells, ATF-4 had a half-life of less than 5 minutes; adding the proteasome inhibitor to normoxic cells up-regulated ATF-4 protein. Extracts from primary human tumors demonstrated more ATF-4 expression in tumors near necrotic areas. Thus, this study demonstrates a novel HIF-1alpha-independent anoxic mechanism that regulates ATF-4 induction at the protein stability level in tumor cells.