PloS one

Hypoxia modulates fibroblastic architecture, adhesion and migration: a role for HIF-1α in cofilin regulation and cytoplasmic actin distribution.

PMID 23874890


Cells can adapt to hypoxia by various mechanisms. Yet, hypoxia-induced effects on the cytoskeleton-based cell architecture and functions are largely unknown. Here we present a comprehensive analysis of the architecture and function of L929 fibroblasts under hypoxic conditions (1% O2). Cells cultivated in hypoxia showed striking morphological differences as compared to cells cultivated under normoxic conditions (20% O2). These changes include an enlargement of cell area and volume, increased numbers of focal contacts and loss of cell polarization. Furthermore the β- and γ-actin distribution is greatly altered. These hypoxic adjustments are associated with enhanced cell spreading and a decline of cell motility in wound closure and single cell motility assays. As the hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is stabilised in hypoxia and plays a pivotal role in the transcriptional response to changes in oxygen availability we used an shRNA-approach to examine the role of HIF-1α in cytoskeleton-related architecture and functions. We show that the observed increase in cell area, actin filament rearrangement, decrease of single cell migration in hypoxia and the maintenance of p-cofilin levels is dependent on HIF-1α stabilisation.