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ATF4-dependent induction of heme oxygenase 1 prevents anoikis and promotes metastasis.

The Journal of clinical investigation (2015-05-27)
Souvik Dey, Carly M Sayers, Ioannis I Verginadis, Stacey L Lehman, Yi Cheng, George J Cerniglia, Stephen W Tuttle, Michael D Feldman, Paul J L Zhang, Serge Y Fuchs, J Alan Diehl, Constantinos Koumenis
ABSTRACT

The integrated stress response (ISR) is a critical mediator of cancer cell survival, and targeting the ISR inhibits tumor progression. Here, we have shown that activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4), a master transcriptional effector of the ISR, protects transformed cells against anoikis - a specialized form of apoptosis - following matrix detachment and also contributes to tumor metastatic properties. Upon loss of attachment, ATF4 activated a coordinated program of cytoprotective autophagy and antioxidant responses, including induced expression of the major antioxidant enzyme heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1). HO-1 upregulation was the result of simultaneous activation of ATF4 and the transcription factor NRF2, which converged on the HO1 promoter. Increased levels of HO-1 ameliorated oxidative stress and cell death. ATF4-deficient human fibrosarcoma cells were unable to colonize the lungs in a murine model, and reconstitution of ATF4 or HO-1 expression in ATF4-deficient cells blocked anoikis and rescued tumor lung colonization. HO-1 expression was higher in human primary and metastatic tumors compared with noncancerous tissue. Moreover, HO-1 expression correlated with reduced overall survival of patients with lung adenocarcinoma and glioblastoma. These results establish HO-1 as a mediator of ATF4-dependent anoikis resistance and tumor metastasis and suggest ATF4 and HO-1 as potential targets for therapeutic intervention in solid tumors.

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