Mol Cancer Res 2014 Sep 21;12(9):1233-43. Epub 2014 May 21.
Molecular Biology Graduate Program and Department of Craniofacial Biology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, Colorado
Unlabelled: Hypoxia is a common characteristic of many solid tumors. The hypoxic microenvironment stabilizes hypoxia-inducible transcription factor 1α (HIF1α) and 2α (HIF2α/EPAS1) to activate gene transcription, which promotes tumor cell survival. The majority of human genes are alternatively spliced, producing RNA isoforms that code for functionally distinct proteins. Thus, an effective hypoxia response requires increased HIF target gene expression as well as proper RNA splicing of these HIF-dependent transcripts. However, it is unclear if and how hypoxia regulates RNA splicing of HIF targets. This study determined the effects of hypoxia on alternative splicing (AS) of HIF and non-HIF target genes in hepatocellular carcinoma cells and characterized the role of HIF in regulating AS of HIF-induced genes. The results indicate that hypoxia generally promotes exon inclusion for hypoxia-induced, but reduces exon inclusion for hypoxia-reduced genes. Mechanistically, HIF activity, but not hypoxia per se is found to be necessary and sufficient to increase exon inclusion of several HIF targets, including pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1 (PDK1). PDK1 splicing reporters confirm that transcriptional activation by HIF is sufficient to increase exon inclusion of PDK1 splicing reporter. In contrast, transcriptional activation of a PDK1 minigene by other transcription factors in the absence of endogenous HIF target gene activation fails to alter PDK1 RNA splicing.
Implications: This study demonstrates a novel function of HIF in regulating RNA splicing of HIF target genes.