Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Cancer Res. 2002 Aug 1;62(15):4316-24.

Identification of small molecule inhibitors of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 transcriptional activation pathway.

Author information

  • 1Developmental Therapeutics Program-Tumor Hypoxia Laboratory, Science Applications International Corporation-Frederick, Inc. and National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Frederick, Maryland 21702-1201, USA.


Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a master regulator of the transcriptional response to oxygen deprivation. HIF-1 has been implicated in the regulation of genes involved in angiogenesis [e.g., vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and inducible nitric oxide synthase] and anaerobic metabolism (e.g., glycolytic enzymes). HIF-1 is essential for angiogenesis and is associated with tumor progression. In addition, overexpression of HIF-1 alpha has been demonstrated in many common human cancers. Therefore, HIF-1 is an attractive molecular target for development of novel cancer therapeutics. We have developed a cell-based high-throughput screen for the identification of small molecule inhibitors of the HIF-1 pathway. We have genetically engineered U251 human glioma cells to stably express a recombinant vector in which the luciferase reporter gene is under control of three copies of a canonical hypoxia-responsive element (U251-HRE). U251-HRE cells consistently expressed luciferase in a hypoxia- and HIF-1-dependent fashion. We now report the results of a pilot screen of the National Cancer Institute "Diversity Set," a collection of approximately 2000 compounds selected to represent the greater chemical diversity of the National Cancer Institute chemical repository. We found four compounds that specifically inhibited HIF-1-dependent induction of luciferase but not luciferase expression driven by a constitutive promoter. In addition, these compounds inhibited hypoxic induction of VEGF mRNA and protein expression in U251 cells. Interestingly, three compounds are closely related camptothecin analogues and topoisomerase (Topo)-I inhibitors. We show that concomitant with HIF-1 and VEGF inhibition, the activity of the Topo-I inhibitors tested is associated with induction of cyclooxygenase 2 mRNA expression. The luciferase-based high-throughput screen is a feasible tool for the identification of small molecule inhibitors of HIF-1 transcriptional activation. In addition, our results suggest that altered Topo-I function may be associated with repression of HIF-1-dependent induction of gene expression.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Publication Types, MeSH Terms, Substances, Grant Support

Publication Types

MeSH Terms


Grant Support

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk