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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Sep 24;116(39):19753-19759. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1909455116. Epub 2019 Sep 10.

Intracellular redox potential is correlated with miRNA expression in MCF7 cells under hypoxic conditions.

Author information

School of Chemistry, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3FJ, United Kingdom.
Institute of Infection and Immunology Research, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3FL, United Kingdom.
Institute of Chemistry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel;
Theoretical Physical Chemistry, Molecular Systems Research Unit, University of Liège, B4000 Liège, Belgium.
School of Chemistry, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3FJ, United Kingdom;


Hypoxia is a ubiquitous feature of cancers, encouraging glycolytic metabolism, proliferation, and resistance to therapy. Nonetheless, hypoxia is a poorly defined term with confounding features described in the literature. Redox biology provides an important link between the external cellular microenvironment and the cell's response to changing oxygen pressures. In this paper, we demonstrate a correlation between intracellular redox potential (measured using optical nanosensors) and the concentrations of microRNAs (miRNAs) involved in the cell's response to changes in oxygen pressure. The correlations were established using surprisal analysis (an approach derived from thermodynamics and information theory). We found that measured redox potential changes reflect changes in the free energy computed by surprisal analysis of miRNAs. Furthermore, surprisal analysis identified groups of miRNAs, functionally related to changes in proliferation and metastatic potential that played the most significant role in the cell's response to changing oxygen pressure.


SERS nanosensors; breast adenocarcinoma; hypoxia; surprisal analysis; tumor microenvironment


Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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