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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 27;108(39):16369-74. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1113483108. Epub 2011 Sep 12.

Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 is a master regulator of breast cancer metastatic niche formation.

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  • 1Institute for Cell Engineering, McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, and Department of Oncology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Primary tumors facilitate metastasis by directing bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) to colonize the lungs before the arrival of cancer cells. Here, we demonstrate that hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a critical regulator of breast cancer metastatic niche formation through induction of multiple members of the lysyl oxidase (LOX) family, including LOX, LOX-like 2, and LOX-like 4, which catalyze collagen cross-linking in the lungs before BMDC recruitment. Only a subset of LOX family members was expressed in any individual breast cancer, but HIF-1 was required for expression in each case. Knockdown of HIF-1 or hypoxia-induced LOX family members reduced collagen cross-linking, CD11b(+) BMDC recruitment, and metastasis formation in the lungs of mice after orthotopic transplantation of human breast cancer cells. Metastatic niche formation is an HIF-1-dependent event during breast cancer progression.

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