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Clin Cancer Res. 2000 Jul;6(7):2941-50.

Opposing effects of hypoxia on expression of the angiogenic inhibitor thrombospondin 1 and the angiogenic inducer vascular endothelial growth factor.

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  • 1SRI International, Pharmaceutical Discovery Division, Menlo Park, California 94025, USA. keith.laderoute@sri.com


Tumor angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels during malignant progression, is a regulated process that has both genetic and physiological controls. Physiologically, angiogenesis is stimulated by decreases in tissue oxygenation (i.e., hypoxia). We investigated the effect of hypoxia on the expression of two angiogenic factors reported to be genetically regulated by the p53 tumor suppressor gene: (a) the angiogenic inhibitor thrombospondin 1 (TSP-1); and (b) the angiogenic inducer vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Analysis of rodent cells that differ in their p53 genotype (p53+/+ or p53-/-) indicated that in vitro exposure to hypoxia simultaneously suppressed TSP-1 and induced VEGF expression, regardless of the p53 genotype. On transformation of these cells with E1A and oncogenic H-ras, the basal level of TSP-1 expression was strongly diminished, whereas that of VEGF could still be induced by hypoxia. Consistent with these in vitro findings, sections of tumors derived from the transformed p53+/+ and p53-/- cells showed that VEGF protein overlapped with regions of hypoxia, whereas TSP-1 protein was below the limits of detection in tumor tissue. Using a panel of normal/immortalized and transformed human cells, it was found that the ability of hypoxia to inhibit TSP-1 expression depends on the cell type and/or the degree of transformation. In contrast, VEGF expression was induced by hypoxia in all of the human cell types examined. Together, these findings suggest that hypoxic and oncogenic signals could interact in the tumor microenvironment to inhibit TSP-1 and induce VEGF expression, promoting the switch to the angiogenic phenotype.

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