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J Biol Chem. 2002 Oct 11;277(41):38205-11. Epub 2002 Jul 30.

Insulin-like growth factor 1 induces hypoxia-inducible factor 1-mediated vascular endothelial growth factor expression, which is dependent on MAP kinase and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling in colon cancer cells.

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  • 1McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.


Stimulation of human colon cancer cells with insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) induces expression of the VEGF gene, encoding vascular endothelial growth factor. In this article we demonstrate that exposure of HCT116 human colon carcinoma cells to IGF-1 induces the expression of HIF-1 alpha, the regulated subunit of hypoxia-inducible factor 1, a known transactivator of the VEGF gene. In contrast to hypoxia, which induces HIF-1 alpha expression by inhibiting its ubiquitination and degradation, IGF-1 did not inhibit these processes, indicating an effect on HIF-1 alpha protein synthesis. IGF-1 stimulation of HIF-1 alpha protein and VEGF mRNA expression was inhibited by treating cells with inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and MAP kinase signaling pathways. These inhibitors also blocked the IGF-1-induced phosphorylation of the translational regulatory proteins 4E-BP1, p70 S6 kinase, and eIF-4E, thus providing a mechanism for the modulation of HIF-1 alpha protein synthesis. Forced expression of a constitutively active form of the MAP kinase kinase, MEK2, was sufficient to induce HIF-1 alpha protein and VEGF mRNA expression. Involvement of the MAP kinase pathway represents a novel mechanism for the induction of HIF-1 alpha protein expression in human cancer cells.

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