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Clin Cancer Res. 2007 Jan 15;13(2 Pt 2):680s-684s.

The von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein and clear cell renal carcinoma.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Germ line VHL tumor suppressor gene loss-of-function mutations cause von Hippel-Lindau disease, which is associated with an increased risk of central nervous system hemangioblastomas, clear cell renal carcinomas, and pheochromocytomas. Somatic VHL mutations are also common in sporadic clear cell renal carcinomas. The VHL gene product, pVHL, is part of a ubiquitin ligase complex that targets the alpha-subunits of the heterodimeric transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) for polyubiquitylation, and hence, proteasomal degradation, when oxygen is available. pVHL-defective clear cell renal carcinomas overproduce a variety of mRNAs that are under the control of HIF, including the mRNAs that encode vascular endothelial growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor B, and transforming growth factor alpha. In preclinical models, down-regulation of HIF-alpha, especially HIF-2alpha, is both necessary and sufficient for renal tumor suppression by pVHL. These observations are probably relevant to the demonstrated clinical activity of vascular endothelial growth factor antagonists in clear cell renal carcinoma and form a foundation for the testing of additional agents that inhibit HIF, or HIF-responsive gene products, in this disease.

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