Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Hypoxia, via the hypoxia-inducible factors 1 and 2 (HIF-1 and HIF-2), upregulates many genes involved in cell survival. However, proapoptotic pathways are also induced. BCL-2/adenovirus E1B-19 kDa-interacting protein 3 (BNIP3) represents a paradigm of a cell death protein that is hypoxically upregulated via HIF-1 in most cancers. We found that in contrast to many other cell types, 6/8 colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines show little hypoxic induction of BNIP3 despite an intact HIF signalling system. Colorectal tumour tissue also loses BNIP3 expression relative to matched normal samples. Downregulation of hypoxic BNIP3 in CRC cells was independent of the expression of other BCL-2 family members, or BNIP3L. That BNIP3 plays a functional role in hypoxic survival in CRC cells was demonstrated by the fact that CRC cell lines that do not upregulate BNIP3 or have been treated with BNIP3 RNA interference were insensitive to hypoxia-induced cell death. Promoter methylation and histone deacetylation were shown to silence BNIP3 in these CRC cell lines. Of significance, hypoxic induction of BNIP3 was restored in 4/6 cell lines by trichostatin-A treatment alone. These data suggest that BNIP3 plays an important role in hypoxic cell death and epigenetic mechanisms selectively silence its expression in CRC.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





132 - 141


Acetylation, Base Sequence, Blotting, Western, Cell Death, Cell Line, Tumor, Chromatin Immunoprecipitation, Colorectal Neoplasms, DNA Methylation, Gene Silencing, Histones, Humans, Membrane Proteins, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Proto-Oncogene Proteins, RNA, Small Interfering, Signal Transduction