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J Biol Chem. 2004 Oct 1;279(40):41275-9. Epub 2004 Aug 13.

Hypoxia-induced nucleophosmin protects cell death through inhibition of p53.

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Division of Experimental Hematology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229, USA.


Nucleophosmin (NPM) is a multifunctional protein that is overexpressed in actively proliferating cells and cancer cells. Here we report that this proliferation-promoting protein is strongly induced in response to hypoxia in human normal and cancer cells. Up-regulation of NPM is hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1)-dependent. The NPM promoter encodes a functional HIF-1-responsive element that can be activated by hypoxia or forced expression of HIF-1alpha. Suppression of NPM expression by small interfering RNA targeting NPM increases hypoxia-induced apoptosis, whereas overexpression of NPM protects against hypoxic cell death of wild-type but not p53-null cells. Moreover, NPM inhibits hypoxia-induced p53 phosphorylation at Ser-15 and interacts with p53 in hypoxic cells. Thus, this study not only demonstrates hypoxia regulation of a proliferation-promoting protein but also suggests that hypoxia-driven cancer progression may require increased expression of NPM to suppress p53 activation and maintain cell survival.

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