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Oncogene. 2012 Jan 19;31(3):282-92. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.238. Epub 2011 Jun 20.

β-arrestin1 mediates metastatic growth of breast cancer cells by facilitating HIF-1-dependent VEGF expression.

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Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


β-Arrestins 1 and 2 are multifunctional adaptor proteins originally discovered for their role in desensitizing seven-transmembrane receptor signaling via the heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide-binding proteins. Recently identified roles of β-arrestins include regulation of cancer cell chemotaxis and proliferation. Herein, we report that β-arrestin1 expression regulates breast tumor colonization in nude mice and cancer cell viability during hypoxia. β-Arrestin1 robustly interacts with nuclear hypoxia-induced factor-1α (HIF-1α) that is stabilized during hypoxia and potentiates HIF-1-dependent transcription of the angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A). Increased expression of β-arrestin1 in human breast cancer (infiltrating ductal carcinoma or IDC and metastatic IDC) correlates with increased levels of VEGF-A. While the anti-angiogenic drug thalidomide inhibits HIF-1-dependent VEGF transcription in breast carcinoma cells, it does not prevent HIF-1α stabilization, but leads to aberrant localization of HIF-1α to the perinuclear compartments and surprisingly stimulates nuclear export of β-arrestin1. Additionally, imatinib mesylate that inhibits release of VEGF induces nuclear export of β-arrestin1-HIF-1α complexes. Our findings suggest that β-arrestin1 regulates nuclear signaling during hypoxia to promote survival of breast cancer cells via VEGF signaling and that drugs that induce its translocation from the nucleus to the cytoplasm could be useful in anti-angiogenic and breast cancer therapies.

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