Biomedical Science Research Center Bsrc Alexander Fleming

Vári, Greece

Biomedical Science Research Center Bsrc Alexander Fleming

Vári, Greece
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Mylonis I.,University of Thessaly | Kourti M.,University of Thessaly | Samiotaki M.,Biomedical Science Research Center Bsrc Alexander Fleming | Panayotou G.,Biomedical Science Research Center Bsrc Alexander Fleming | Simos G.,University of Thessaly
Journal of Cell Science | Year: 2017

Hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is the main transcriptional activator of the cellular response to hypoxia and an important target of anticancer therapy. Phosphorylation by ERK1 and/or ERK2 (MAPK3 and MAPK1, respectively; hereafter ERK) stimulates the transcriptional activity of HIF-1α by inhibiting its CRM1 (XPO1)- dependent nuclear export. Here, we demonstrate that phosphorylation by ERK also regulates the association of HIF-1α with a so-far-unknown interaction partner identified as mortalin (also known as GRP75 and HSPA9), which mediates non-genomic involvement of HIF-1α in apoptosis. Mortalin binds specifically to HIF-1α that lacks modification by ERK, and the HIF-1α-mortalin complex is localized outside the nucleus. Under hypoxia, mortalin mediates targeting of unmodified HIF-1α to the outer mitochondrial membrane, as well as association with VDAC1 and hexokinase II, which promotes production of a C-terminally truncated active form of VDAC1, denoted VDAC1-ΔC, and protection from apoptosis when ERK is inactivated. Under normoxia, transcriptionally inactive forms of unmodified HIF-1α or its C-terminal domain alone are also targeted to mitochondria, stimulate production of VDAC1-ΔC and increase resistance to etoposide- or doxorubicin-induced apoptosis. These findings reveal an ERK-controlled, unconventional and anti-apoptotic function of HIF-1α that might serve as an early protective mechanism upon oxygen limitation and promote cancer cell resistance to chemotherapy. © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.

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