Positive feedback loop and synergistic effects between hypoxia-inducible factor-2α and stearoyl–CoA desaturase-1 promote tumorigenesis in clear cell renal cell carcinoma

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Abstract

Adapting to hypoxic stress is pivotal in tumor progression and determining tumor malignancy. The transcriptional factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) is crucial in modulating tumorous hypoxic responses through altering cell energy metabolism, which includes the modification of glucose and lipid metabolism-associated gene expression. Stearoyl–CoA desaturase-1 (SCD1) is the main isoform of SCDs, the rate-limiting enzymes in the biosynthesis of monounsaturated fatty acids from saturated fatty acids, which is extensively activated in cancer progression. In this study, we found that SCD1 and HIF-2α were overexpressed in human clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) tissues and ccRCC cell lines, and were upregulated in the 786-0 ccRCC cell line under hypoxia. Knockdown of SCD1 or HIF-2α impacted the other's expression. Enhancing SCD1 resulted in HIF-2α upregulation, which could be blocked by inhibiting the PI3K/Akt pathway. Deficiency of SCD1 or HIF-2α in 768-0 cells led to apoptosis, less colony formation ability, and decreased cell migration. More obvious effects were observed in 786-0 cells with double SCD1 and HIF-2α knockdown. These results indicate a PI3K/Akt-mediated loop between SCD1 and HIF-2α that mutually enhances their protein levels. Both SCD1 and HIF-2α are critical to promoting tumorigenesis by synergistically acting on maintaining cell survival, triggering cell migration, and enhancing the colony formation ability of cancer cells.

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