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PLoS Pathog. 2017 Sep 18;13(9):e1006628. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006628. eCollection 2017 Sep.

Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha as a therapeutic target for primary effusion lymphoma.

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HIV and AIDS Malignancy Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.
The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is an aggressive B-cell lymphoma with poor prognosis caused by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Previous studies have revealed that HIF-1α, which mediates much of the cellular response to hypoxia, plays an important role in life cycle of KSHV. KSHV infection promotes HIF-1α activity, and several KSHV genes are in turn activated by HIF-1α. In this study, we investigated the effects of knocking down HIF-1α in PELs. We observed that HIF-1α knockdown in each of two PEL lines leads to a reduction in both aerobic and anaerobic glycolysis as well as lipid biogenesis, indicating that HIF-1α is necessary for maintaining a metabolic state optimal for growth of PEL. We also found that HIF-1α suppression leads to a substantial reduction in activation of lytic KSHV genes, not only in hypoxia but also in normoxia. Moreover, HIF-1α knockdown led to a decrease in the expression of various KSHV latent genes, including LANA, vCyclin, kaposin, and miRNAs, under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. These observations provide evidence that HIF-1α plays an important role in PEL even in normoxia. Consistent with these findings, we observed a significant inhibition of growth of PEL in normoxia upon HIF-1α suppression achieved by either HIF-1α knockdown or treatment with PX-478, a small molecule inhibitor of HIF-1α. These results offer further evidence that HIF-1α plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of PEL, and that inhibition of HIF-1α can be a potential therapeutic strategy in this disease.

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