Peptidyl prolyl isomerase (PIN1) regulates the functional activity of a subset of phosphoproteins through binding to phosphorylated Ser/Thr-Pro motifs and subsequently isomerization of the phosphorylated bonds. Interestingly, PIN1 is overexpressed in many types of malignancies including breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. However, its oncogenic functions have not been fully elucidated. Here, we report that PIN1 directly interacts with hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α in human colon cancer (HCT116) cells. PIN1 binding to HIF-1α occurred in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. We also found that PIN1 interacted with HIF-1α at both exogenous and endogenous levels. Notably, PIN1 binding stabilized the HIF-1α protein, given that their levels were significantly increased under hypoxic conditions. The stabilization of HIF-1α resulted in increased transcriptional activity, consequently upregulating expression of vascular endothelial growth factor, a major contributor to angiogenesis. Silencing of PIN1 or pharmacologic inhibition of its activity abrogated the angiogenesis. By utilizing a bioluminescence imaging technique, we were able to demonstrate that PIN1 inhibition dramatically reduced the tumor volume in a subcutaneous mouse xenograft model and angiogenesis as well as hypoxia-induced transcriptional activity of HIF-1α. These results suggest that PIN1 interacting with HIF-1α is a potential cancer chemopreventive and therapeutic target.
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