Gain of HIF-1α under normoxia in cancer mediates immune adaptation through the AKT/ERK and VEGFA axes

Young Ho Lee, Hyun Cheol Bae, Kyung Hee Noh, Kwon Ho Song, Sang Kyu Ye, Chih Ping Mao, Kyung Mi Lee, T. C. Wu, Tae Woo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Adaptation to host immune surveillance is now recognized as a hallmark of cancer onset and progression, and represents an early, indispensable event in cancer evolution. This process of evolution is first instigated by an immune selection pressure imposed by natural host surveillance mechanisms and may then be propagated by vaccination or other types of immunotherapy. Experimental Design: We developed a system to simulate cancer evolution in a live host and to dissect the mechanisms responsible for adaptation to immune selection. Here, we show that the oxygen-sensitive a subunit of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1a) plays a central role in cancer immune adaptation under conditions of normal oxygen tension. Results: We found that tumor cells gain HIF-1a in the course of immune selection under normoxia and that HIF- 1a renders tumor cells resistant to lysis by tumor-specifi c cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) in culture and in mice. The effects of HIF-1α on immune adaptation were mediated through VEGFA-dependent activation of the AKT and ERK signaling pathways, which induced an antiapoptotic gene expression network in tumor cells. Conclusions: Our study therefore establishes a link between immune selection, overexpression of HIF-1a, and cancer immune adaptation under normoxia, providing new opportunities for molecular intervention in patients with cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1438-1446
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar 15

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©2015 AACR.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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