The up-regulation of NDRG1 by HIF counteracts the cancer-promoting effect of HIF in VHL-deficient clear cell renal cell carcinoma.

Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are thought to play important roles in the carcinogenesis and progression of VHL-deficient clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC).

The roles of HIF-1/2α in VHL-deficient clear cell renal cell carcinoma were evaluated by bioinformatics analysis, immunohistochemistry staining and Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. The downstream genes that counteract the cancer-promoting effect of HIF were analysed by unbiased proteomics and verified by in vitro and in vivo assays.

There was no correlation between the high protein level of HIF-1/2α and the poor prognosis of ccRCC patients in our large set of clinical data. Furthermore, NDRG1 was found to be up-regulated by both HIF-1α and -2α at the cellular level and in ccRCC tissues. Intriguingly, the high NDRG1 expression was correlated with lower Furman grade, TNM stage and longer survival for ccRCC patients compared with the low NDRG1 expression. In addition, NDRG1 suppressed the expression of series oncogenes as well as the proliferation, metastasis and invasion of VHL-deficient ccRCC cells in vitro and vivo.

Our study demonstrated that HIF downstream gene of NDRG1 may counteract the cancer-promoting effect of HIF. These results provided evidence that NDRG1 may be a potential prognostic biomarker as well as a therapeutic target in ccRCC.

Cell proliferation. 2020 Jun 14 [Epub ahead of print]

Zheng-Yan Zhang, Shi-Long Zhang, Hui-Ling Chen, Yu-Qin Mao, Zhan-Ming Li, Chao-Yue Kong, Bing Han, Jin Zhang, Yong-Hui Chen, Wei Xue, Wei Zhai, Li-Shun Wang

Key Laboratory of Whole-Period Monitoring and Precise Intervention of Digestive Cancer (SMHC), Minhang Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China., Department of Urology, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.