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Title: Snail/beta-catenin signaling protects breast cancer cells from hypoxia attack

The tolerance of cancer cells to hypoxia depends on the combination of different factors – from increase of glycolysis (Warburg Effect) to activation of intracellular growth/apoptotic pathways. Less is known about the influence of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) and EMT-associated pathways on the cell sensitivity to hypoxia. The aim of this study was to explore the role of Snail signaling, one of the key EMT pathways, in the mediating of hypoxia response and regulation of cell sensitivity to hypoxia, using as a model in vitro cultured breast cancer cells. Earlier we have shown that estrogen-independent HBL-100 breast cancer cells differ from estrogen-dependent MCF-7 cells with increased expression of Snail1, and demonstrated Snail1 involvement into formation of hormone-resistant phenotype. Because Snail1 belongs to hypoxia-activated proteins, here we studied the influence of Snail1 signaling on the cell tolerance to hypoxia. We found that Snail1-enriched HBL-100 cells were less sensitive to hypoxia-induced growth suppression if compared with MCF-7 line (31% MCF-7 vs. 71% HBL-100 cell viability after 1% O{sub 2} atmosphere for 3 days). Snail1 knock-down enhanced the hypoxia-induced inhibition of cell proliferation giving the direct evidence of Snail1 involvement into cell protection from hypoxia attack. The protective effect of Snail1 was shown tomore » be mediated, at least in a part, via beta-catenin which positively regulated expression of HIF-1-dependent genes. Finally, we found that cell tolerance to hypoxia was accompanied with the failure in the phosphorylation of AMPK – the key energy sensor, and demonstrated an inverse relationship between AMPK and Snail/beta-catenin signaling. Totally, our data show that Snail1 and beta-catenin, besides association with loss of hormone dependence, protect cancer cells from hypoxia and may serve as an important target in the treatment of breast cancer. Moreover, we suggest that the level of these proteins as well the level of AMPK phosphorylation may be considered as predictors of the tumor sensitivity to anti-angiogenic drugs. - Highlights: • Snail1 protects breast cancer cells from hypoxia. • Protective effect of Snail1 is mediated via β-catenin/HIF-1 pathway. • Snail/β-catenin signaling is negatively controlled by the energy sensor – AMPK. • The failure in AMPK phosphorylation drives cells to the hypoxia-tolerant state.« less
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  1. Laboratory of Clinical Biochemistry, Institute of Clinical Oncology, N.N. Blokhin Cancer Research Centre, Kashirskoye sh. 24, Moscow 115478 (Russian Federation)
  2. Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology, Institute of Carcinogenesis, N.N. Blokhin Cancer Research Centre, Kashirskoye sh. 24, Moscow 115478 (Russian Federation)
  3. Laboratory of Oncoendocrinology, N.N. Petrov Research Institute of Oncology, St. Petersburg 197758 (Russian Federation)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Experimental Cell Research; Journal Volume: 319; Journal Issue: 20; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2013 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States