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Int J Oncol. 2011 Mar;38(3):733-44. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2010.883. Epub 2010 Dec 22.

Downregulation of uPA/uPAR inhibits intermittent hypoxia-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in DAOY and D283 medulloblastoma cells.

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Department of Cancer Biology and Pharmacology, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Peoria, IL 61605, USA.


Hypoxia is known to induce overexpression of the urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) and its receptor (uPAR) and thus overexpression promotes uPAR-mediated survival signaling in various cancers. Moreover, hypoxia/ overexpression of uPAR in cancer cells promote the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and thereby invasiveness and metastasis. In this study, we show that intermittent hypoxia has a more pronounced effect than chronic hypoxia and contributes to EMT, invasion and migration in medulloblastoma cells. Intermittent hypoxia induced expression of mesenchymal markers (i.e., SNAIL, Vimentin and N-cadherin) and reduced expression of epithelial markers (i.e., Zo-1, E-cadherin) in medulloblastoma cells. Further, intermittent hypoxia also leads to enhancement in cell invasion, migration and angiogenesis in medulloblastoma cells. Intermittent hypoxia also inhibited expression of pro-anti-apoptotic proteins (Bax and Bad), and induced expression of anti-pro-apoptotic proteins (Bcl2 and Bcl-xL), and activation of ERK in medulloblastoma cells. Transcriptional inactivation of either uPA or uPAR inhibits the intermittent hypoxia-induced invasion and migration, and expression of Vimentin. uPA/ uPAR downregulation also induces E-cadherin expression and inhibits activation of ERK. Thus, transcriptional inactivation of either uPA or uPAR enhances the apoptotic response in medulloblastoma cells exposed to intermittent hypoxia. This study provides evidence of the anti-tumor efficacy of down-regulation of uPA or uPAR in medulloblastoma tumors to target hypoxia-induced cell EMT, invasion and migration, to achieve better therapeutic outcomes in the treatment of malignant medulloblastoma.

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