HIF prolyl hydroxylase PHD3 regulates translational machinery and glucose metabolism in clear cell renal cell carcinoma

A key feature of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau tumour suppressor protein (pVHL) that leads to the activation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathway also in well-oxygenated conditions. Important regulator of HIF-α, prolyl hydroxylase PHD3, is expressed in high amounts in ccRCC. Although several functions and downstream targets for PHD3 in cancer have been suggested, the role of elevated PHD3 expression in ccRCC is not clear.

To gain insight into the functions of high PHD3 expression in ccRCC, we used PHD3 knockdown by siRNA in 786-O cells under normoxic and hypoxic conditions and performed discovery mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) of the purified peptide samples. The LC-MS/MS results were analysed by label-free quantification of proteome data using a peptide-level expression-change averaging procedure and subsequent gene ontology enrichment analysis.

Our data reveals an intriguingly widespread effect of PHD3 knockdown with 91 significantly regulated proteins. Under hypoxia, the response to PHD3 silencing was wider than under normoxia illustrated by both the number of regulated proteins and by the range of protein expression levels. The main cellular functions regulated by PHD3 expression were glucose metabolism, protein translation and messenger RNA (mRNA) processing. PHD3 silencing led to downregulation of most glycolytic enzymes from glucose transport to lactate production supported by the reduction in extracellular acidification and lactate production and increase in cellular oxygen consumption rate. Moreover, upregulation of mRNA processing-related proteins and alteration in a number of ribosomal proteins was seen as a response to PHD3 silencing. Further studies on upstream effectors of the translational machinery revealed a possible role for PHD3 in regulation of mTOR pathway signalling.

Our findings suggest crucial involvement of PHD3 in the maintenance of key cellular functions including glycolysis and protein synthesis in ccRCC.

Cancer & metabolism. 2017 Jul 04*** epublish ***

Petra Miikkulainen, Heidi Högel, Krista Rantanen, Tomi Suomi, Petri Kouvonen, Laura L Elo, Panu M Jaakkola

Turku Centre for Biotechnology, University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University, Tykistökatu 6, 20520 Turku, Finland.