[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Signalling by erythropoietin (EPO) is increasingly recognised as a relevant mechanism in tumour biology, potentially leading to enhanced proliferation, angiogenesis and therapy resistance. Paraneoplastic polycythemia by cancerous overproduction of EPO is a rare event, but most frequently seen in patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The majority of clear cell RCC displays a strong activation of the transcription factor regulating EPO, the Hypoxia-inducible Factor (HIF). Therefore, it is unclear why only a small minority of patients develop polycythemia. We studied 70 RCC for EPO gene and HIFalpha isoform expression. 34% of all RCC showed expression of EPO mRNA in RNase protection assays, which were almost exclusively of the clear cell type. Only 1 patient presented with polycythemia. In situ hybridisation revealed that expression of EPO was in the tumour cells. Expression of EPO mRNA was always associated with activation of HIF, which could involve HIF-1alpha and/or HIF-2alpha. The frequency of EPO gene expression in RCC is therefore much higher than the prevalence of polycythemia. Furthermore, activation of HIF appears necessary for EPO gene expression in RCC, but is clearly not the only determinant. Further to the reported expression of EPO receptors in tumour tissues, the finding of widespread expression of EPO in RCC supports the recent notion of an involvement of this system in paracrine or autocrine effects of tumour cells.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2007 · International Journal of Cancer
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Early kidney development is associated with the coordinated branching of the renal tubular and vascular system and hypoxia has been proposed to be a major regulatory factor in this process. Under low oxygen levels, the hypoxia-inducible transcription factor (HIF) regulates the expression of genes involved in angiogenesis, erythropoiesis and glycolysis. To investigate the role of HIF in kidney development, we analyzed the temporal and spatial expression of the oxygen regulated HIF-1alpha and -2alpha subunits at different stages of rat and human kidney development. Using double-staining procedures, localization of the HIF target geneproducts vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and endoglin was studied in relation to HIFalpha. In both species, we found marked nuclear expression of HIF-1alpha in medullary and cortical collecting ducts and in glomerular cells. In contrast, HIF-2alpha was expressed in interstitial and peritubular cells podocytes of the more mature glomeruli. After completion of glomerulogenesis and nephrogenesis, HIF-1alpha and -2alpha were no longer detectable. The HIF-target gene VEGF colocalized with HIF-1alpha protein in glomeruli and medullary collecting ducts. HIF-2alpha colocalized with the endothelium-associated angiogenic factor, endoglin. Both HIFalpha isoforms are activated in the developing kidney in a cell-specific and temporally controlled manner, indicating a regulatory role of oxygen tension in nephrogenesis. HIF-1alpha seems to be primarily involved in tubulogenesis and HIF-2alpha in renal vasculogenesis. Both isoforms are found in glomerulogenesis, potentially having synergistic effects.
Preview · Article · Feb 2006 · Kidney International
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1 is an important mediator of hypoxic adaptation of tumor cells and controls several genes that have been implicated in tumor growth. Oxygen-dependent degradation of HIF-1alpha, the regulatory subunit, requires binding to the von Hippel Lindau (VHL) protein. Because functional inactivation of the VHL tumor suppressor gene occurs in up to 70% of clear cell renal carcinomas, we investigated whether this results in overexpression of HIF-1alpha and its target genes. Immunoblotting revealed increased expression of HIF-1alpha in 24 of 32 (75%) clear cell renal carcinomas but only 3 of 8 non-clear cell renal tumors. Somatic mutations of the VHL gene were detected only in clear cell renal carcinomas that overexpressed HIF-1alpha. None of the HIF-1alpha-negative tumors displayed a VHL mutation. The level of HIF-1alpha mRNA was not different between tumors and adjacent kidney tissue. Immunohistochemistry revealed distinct patterns of nuclear staining for HIF-1alpha, depending on histological type and overall abundance of HIF-1alpha. In those clear cell renal carcinomas that showed increased expression on immunoblots, HIF-1alpha was expressed in almost all cells. In the remaining clear cell and in non-clear cell tumors, staining was focal; these different patterns thus were compatible with genetic stabilization in contrast to microenvironmental stimulation of HIF-1alpha as the primary mechanism. The mRNA expression of two known target genes of HIF-1alpha, vascular endothelial growth factor and glucose transporter 1, increased progressively with increasing amounts of HIF-1alpha in tumor extracts. In addition, glucose transporter 1 protein levels correlated with HIF-1alpha abundance. In conclusion, the data provide in vivo evidence for a constitutive up-regulation of HIF-1alpha in the majority of clear cell renal carcinomas, which leads to more widespread accumulation of this transcription factor than hypoxic stimulation. These observations are most likely linked to functional inactivation of the VHL gene product. Increased expression of HIF-1alpha is associated with alterations in gene expression patterns that are likely to contribute to tumor phenotype and progression.