HIF-2α dictates the susceptibility of pancreatic cancer cells to TRAIL by regulating survivin expression.

PMID 28476028


Cancer cells develop resistance to therapy by adapting to hypoxic microenvironments, and hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) play crucial roles in this process. We investigated the roles of HIF-1α and HIF-2α in cancer cell death induced by tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) using human pancreatic cancer cell lines. siRNA-mediated knockdown of HIF-2α, but not HIF-1α, increased susceptibility of two pancreatic cancer cell lines, Panc-1 and AsPC-1, to TRAIL in vitro under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. The enhanced sensitivity to TRAIL was also observed in vivo. This in vitro increased TRAIL sensitivity was observed in other three pancreatic cancer cell lines. An array assay of apoptosis-related proteins showed that knockdown of HIF-2α decreased survivin expression. Additionally, survivin promoter activity was decreased in HIF-2α knockdown Panc-1 cells and HIF-2α bound to the hypoxia-responsive element in the survivin promoter region. Conversely, forced expression of the survivin gene in HIF-2α shRNA-expressing Panc-1 cells increased resistance to TRAIL. In a xenograft mouse model, the survivin suppressant YM155 sensitized Panc-1 cells to TRAIL. Collectively, our results indicate that HIF-2α dictates the susceptibility of human pancreatic cancer cell lines, Panc-1 and AsPC-1, to TRAIL by regulating survivin expression transcriptionally, and that survivin could be a promising target to augment the therapeutic efficacy of death receptor-targeting anti-cancer therapy.