Cell type-dependent HIF1 α-mediated effects of hypoxia on proliferation, migration and metastatic potential of human tumor cells

Eniko Tátrai, Alexandra Bartal, Alexandra Gacs, S. Paku, I. Kenessey, Tamás Garay, B. Hegedűs, Eszter Molnár, Mihály T. Cserepes, Zita Hegedus, Nóra Kucsma, G. Szakács, J. Tóvári

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Tumor hypoxia promotes neoangiogenesis and contributes to the radio- and chemotherapy resistant and aggressive phenotype of cancer cells. However, the migratory response of tumor cells and the role of small GTPases regulating the organization of cytoskeleton under hypoxic conditions have yet to be established. Accordingly, we measured the proliferation, migration, RhoA activation, the mRNA and protein levels of hypoxia inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1α) and three small G-proteins, Rac1, cdc42 and RhoA in a panel of five human tumor cell lines under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Importantly, HT168-M1 human melanoma cells with high baseline migration capacity showed increased HIF-1α and small GTPases expression, RhoA activation and migration under hypoxia. These activities were blocked by anti- HIF-1α shRNA. Moreover, the in vivo metastatic potential was promoted by hypoxia mimicking CoCl2 treatment and reduced upon inhibition of HIF-1α in a spleen to liver colonization experiment. In contrast, HT29 human colon cancer cells with low migration capacity showed limited response to in vitro hypoxia. The expression of the small G-proteins decreased both at mRNA and protein levels and the RhoA activation was reduced. Nevertheless, the number of lung or liver metastatic colonies disseminating from orthotopic HT29 grafts did not change upon CoCl2 or chetomin treatment. Our data demonstrates that the hypoxic environment induces cell-type dependent changes in the levels and activation of small GTPases and results in varying migratory and metastasis promoting responses in different human tumor cell lines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44498-44510
Number of pages13
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017



  • Hypoxia
  • Metastasis
  • RhoA activation
  • Small GTPases
  • Tumor cell motility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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