Advanced cervical cancer remains a vexing clinical challenge despite screening programs. Many of these cancers are hypoxic, and expression of the α subunit of the major regulator of the hypoxic cellular response, the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), is correlated with poor prognosis. Here, we tested a functional role for HEF-1α in pathogenesis of cervical cancer in estrogen-treated transgenic mice. Double-transgenic (DTG) mice developed locally invasive cervical cancers 70 times larger than K14-HPV16 mice. In vivo bromodeoxyuridine incorporation was elevated in DTG cancers without a significant increase in apoptosis. HIF-1α gain of function did not up-regulate canonical HIF-1 targets in premalignant DTG cervices, in contrast to elevation of these targets in K14-HIF-1a transgenic cervices. The DTG transcriptional signature included up-regulation of mRNAs encoding cytokines and chemokines, immune signaling molecules, extracellular proteases, and cell motility factors, as well as reduced expression of cell adhesion and epithelial differentiation genes. Importantly, a set of gene markers derived from the DTG transcriptome predicted cervical cancer progression in patients. This study suggests a novel paradigm for HIF-1 function evident in multistage carcinogenesis as opposed to established malignancies, including interaction with viral oncogenes to induce multiple genomic networks in premalignancy that fosters the development of advanced cervical cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine