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Neurosurg Rev. 2007 Jul;30(3):181-7; discussion 187. Epub 2007 May 8.

Identification of hypoxia-induced genes in a malignant glioma cell line (U-251) by cDNA microarray analysis.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA.


Overcoming the metabolic restrictions of hypoxia may allow the progression of lower-grade tumors to glioblastoma multiforme. Our findings of up-regulation of HIF-1alpha and its downstream targets VEGF, GLUT-1, and CAIX in higher-grade gliomas support this hypothesis. We compared the gene expression profiles of the U-251 malignant glioma cell line under normoxic and hypoxic conditions to discover future research targets. U-251 cells were grown to 75% confluence and exposed to either normoxic or hypoxic conditions for 24 h. RNA was extracted, amplified, and hybridized to a cDNA microarray chip containing ~8,800 universal cellular genes. A threefold increase in mRNA expression was used as a threshold value for differential expression. Identified genes were divided into cell cycle control, stress response, and "newly connected" genes. Hybridization identified 11 hypoxia-induced genes: 1 involved with cell cycle control (CCNG2), 6 in stress response (IGFBP3, SLC2A3, GSTT2, FOS, DDIT3, AKR1C3), and 2 newly connected genes (Depp, AKAP4). One stress-related gene (AKR1C3) encodes for an enzyme that synthesizes progesterone. Of newly connected genes, the gene decidual protein induced by progesterone (Depp) showed the highest expression (4.2-fold increase). Possible future targeting for "hypoxic" glioma cells includes the targets for the AP-1 transcription factor complex (FOS), as well as blockade of the enzyme AKR1C3 with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Possible functions of the highly expressed gene Depp include tumor vascularization. Future studies will focus on the hypothesis that Depp is up-regulated in an autocrine fashion by the AKR1C3 enzyme in U-251 glioma cells under hypoxic conditions.

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