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Microvasc Res. 2011 Mar;81(2):160-8. doi: 10.1016/j.mvr.2010.12.004. Epub 2010 Dec 24.

Suppression of NHE1 by small interfering RNA inhibits HIF-1α-induced angiogenesis in vitro via modulation of calpain activity.

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Department of Geriatrics Cardiology, 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400010, China.


Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) orchestrates angiogenesis under hypoxic conditions mainly due to increased expression of such target genes as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Na+/H+exchanger-1 (NHE1), a potential HIF target gene product, plays a pivotal role in proliferation, survival, migration, adhesion and so on. However, it is unknown whether NHE1 is involved in HIF-1α-induced angiogenesis. This present study demonstrated that the expression of NHE1 was much higher in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) infected with adenovirus encoding HIF-1α (rAd-HIF) than with vacuum adenovirus (vAd). HIF-1α also increased the expression of VEGF, the expression and activity of calpains, and the intracellular pH. Moreover, small interfering RNA targeting NHE1 (NHE1 siRNA) dramatically decreased the expression of NHE1 and thus lowered the intracellular pH, and it also attenuated the protein expression of calpain-2 but not calpain-1, resulting in the lower calpain activity. Furthermore, HIF-1α enhanced the proliferation, migration and Matrigel tube formation, which were inhibited by NHE1 siRNA. Finally, the inhibitory effect of NHE1 siRNA was reversed by VEGF and the reversibility of the later was abrogated by the calpain inhibitor ALLM. In conclusion, the findings have revealed that NHE1 might participate in HIF-1-induced angiogenesis due, at least in part, to the alteration of the calpain activity, suggesting that NHE1 as well as calpains might represent a potential target of controlling angiogenesis in response to the hypoxic stress under various pathological conditions.

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