Hypoxia-induced modulation of PTEN activity and EMT phenotypes in lung cancers

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Abstract

Background: Persistent hypoxia stimulation, one of the most critical microenvironmental factors, accelerates the acquisition of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotypes in lung cancer cells. Loss of phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted from chromosome 10 (PTEN) expression might accelerate the development of lung cancer in vivo. Recent studies suggest that tumor microenvironmental factors might modulate the PTEN activity though a decrease in total PTEN expression and an increase in phosphorylation of the PTEN C-terminus (p-PTEN), resulting in the acquisition of the EMT phenotypes. Nevertheless, it is not known whether persistent hypoxia can modulate PTEN phosphatase activity or whether hypoxia-induced EMT phenotypes are negatively regulated by the PTEN phosphatase activity. We aimed to investigate hypoxia-induced modulation of PTEN activity and EMT phenotypes in lung cancers. Methods: Western blotting was performed in five lung cancer cell lines to evaluate total PTEN expression levels and the PTEN activation. In a xenograft model of lung cancer cells with endogenous PTEN expression, the PTEN expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry. To examine the effect of hypoxia on phenotypic alterations in lung cancer cells in vitro, the cells were cultured under hypoxia. The effect of unphosphorylated PTEN (PTEN4A) induction on hypoxia-induced EMT phenotypes was evaluated, by using a Dox-dependent gene expression system. Results: Lung cancer cells involving the EMT phenotypes showed a decrease in total PTEN expression and an increase in p-PTEN. In a xenograft model, loss of PTEN expression was observed in the tumor lesions showing tissue hypoxia. Persistent hypoxia yielded an approximately eight-fold increase in the p-PTEN/PTEN ratio in vitro. PTEN4A did not affect stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor 1αnclusion: Our study strengthens the therapeutic possibility that compensatory induction of unphosphorylated PTEN may inhibit the acquisition of EMT phenotypes in lung cancer cells under persistent hypoxia.

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Kohnoh, T., Hashimoto, N., Ando, A., Sakamoto, K., Miyazaki, S., Aoyama, D., … Hasegawa, Y. (2016). Hypoxia-induced modulation of PTEN activity and EMT phenotypes in lung cancers. Cancer Cell International, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12935-016-0308-3

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