VHL

Gene Summary

Gene:VHL; von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor, E3 ubiquitin protein ligase
Aliases: RCA1, VHL1, pVHL, HRCA1
Location:3p25.3
Summary:Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL) is a dominantly inherited familial cancer syndrome predisposing to a variety of malignant and benign tumors. A germline mutation of this gene is the basis of familial inheritance of VHL syndrome. The protein encoded by this gene is a component of the protein complex that includes elongin B, elongin C, and cullin-2, and possesses ubiquitin ligase E3 activity. This protein is involved in the ubiquitination and degradation of hypoxia-inducible-factor (HIF), which is a transcription factor that plays a central role in the regulation of gene expression by oxygen. RNA polymerase II subunit POLR2G/RPB7 is also reported to be a target of this protein. Alternatively spliced transcript variants encoding distinct isoforms have been observed. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:von Hippel-Lindau disease tumor suppressor
HPRD
Source:NCBIAccessed: 17 August, 2015

Ontology:

What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 17 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 17 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (7)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: VHL (cancer-related)

El-Naggar AM, Veinotte CJ, Cheng H, et al.
Translational Activation of HIF1α by YB-1 Promotes Sarcoma Metastasis.
Cancer Cell. 2015; 27(5):682-97 [PubMed] Related Publications
Metastatic dissemination is the leading cause of death in cancer patients, which is particularly evident for high-risk sarcomas such as Ewing sarcoma, osteosarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma. Previous research identified a crucial role for YB-1 in the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and metastasis of epithelial malignancies. Based on clinical data and two distinct animal models, we now report that YB-1 is also a major metastatic driver in high-risk sarcomas. Our data establish YB-1 as a critical regulator of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF1α) expression in sarcoma cells. YB-1 enhances HIF1α protein expression by directly binding to and activating translation of HIF1A messages. This leads to HIF1α-mediated sarcoma cell invasion and enhanced metastatic capacity in vivo, highlighting a translationally regulated YB-1-HIF1α axis in sarcoma metastasis.

Cassol C, Mete O
Endocrine manifestations of von Hippel-Lindau disease.
Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2015; 139(2):263-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease is an autosomal dominant disorder caused by heterozygous mutations in the VHL tumor suppressor gene that is characterized by the occurrence of multiple endocrine and nonendocrine lesions. This review focuses on the endocrine manifestations of VHL disease. Pancreatic neuroendocrine proliferations (ductuloinsular complexes, islet dysplasia, endocrine microadenoma, and neuroendocrine tumors), pheochromocytomas, and extra-adrenal paragangliomas are important endocrine manifestations of VHL disease. They frequently display characteristic clinical, biochemical, and histopathologic features that, although not pathognomonic, can be helpful in suggesting VHL disease as the underlying etiology and distinguishing these tumors from sporadic cases. Recent improvements in treatment and outcomes of renal cell carcinomas have allowed pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors to emerge as a significant source of metastatic disease, making the accurate recognition and classification of these neoplasms by the pathologist of utmost importance to determine prognosis, treatment, and follow-up strategies for affected patients.

Shankar GM, Taylor-Weiner A, Lelic N, et al.
Sporadic hemangioblastomas are characterized by cryptic VHL inactivation.
Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2014; 2:167 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Hemangioblastomas consist of 10-20% neoplastic "stromal" cells within a vascular tumor cell mass of reactive pericytes, endothelium and lymphocytes. Familial cases of central nervous system hemangioblastoma uniformly result from mutations in the Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene. In contrast, inactivation of VHL has been previously observed in only a minority of sporadic hemangioblastomas, suggesting an alternative genetic etiology. We performed deep-coverage DNA sequencing on 32 sporadic hemangioblastomas (whole exome discovery cohort n = 10, validation n = 22), followed by analysis of clonality, copy number alteration, and somatic mutation. We identified somatic mutation, loss of heterozygosity and/or deletion of VHL in 8 of 10 discovery cohort tumors. VHL inactivating events were ultimately detected in 78% (25/32) of cases. No other gene was significantly mutated. Overall, deep-coverage sequence analysis techniques uncovered VHL alterations within the neoplastic fraction of these tumors at higher frequencies than previously reported. Our findings support the central role of VHL inactivation in the molecular pathogenesis of both familial and sporadic hemangioblastomas.

Zhou J, Wu K, Gao D, et al.
Reciprocal regulation of hypoxia-inducible factor 2α and GLI1 expression associated with the radioresistance of renal cell carcinoma.
Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2014; 90(4):942-51 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is often considered a radioresistant tumor, but the molecular mechanism underlying its radioresistance is poorly understood. This study explored the roles of hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF2α) and sonic hedgehog (SHH)-GLI1 signaling in mediating the radioresistance of RCC cells and to unveil the interaction between these 2 signaling pathways.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: The activities of SHH-GLI1 signaling pathway under normoxia and hypoxia in RCC cells were examined by real-time polymerase chain reaction, Western blot, and luciferase reporter assay. The expression of HIF2α and GLI1 in RCC patients was examined by immunohistochemistry, and their correlation was analyzed. Furthermore, RCC cells were treated with HIF2α-specific shRNA (sh-HIF2α), GLI1 inhibitor GANT61, or a combination to determine the effect of ionizing radiation (IR) on RCC cells based on clonogenic assay and double-strand break repair assay.
RESULTS: RCC cells exhibited elevated SHH-GLI1 activities under hypoxia, which was mediated by HIF2α. Hypoxia induced GLI1 activation through SMO-independent pathways that could be ablated by PI3K inhibitor or MEK inhibitor. Remarkably, the SHH-GLI1 pathway also upregulated HIF2α expression in normoxia. Apparently, there was a positive correlation between HIF2α and GLI1 expression in RCC patients. The combination of sh-HIF2α and GLI1 inhibitor significantly sensitized RCC cells to IR.
CONCLUSIONS: Cross-talk between the HIF2α and SHH-GLI1 pathways was demonstrated in RCC. Cotargeting these 2 pathways, significantly sensitizing RCC cells to IR, provides a novel strategy for RCC treatment.

Joshi S, Singh AR, Durden DL
Pan-PI-3 kinase inhibitor SF1126 shows antitumor and antiangiogenic activity in renal cell carcinoma.
Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2015; 75(3):595-608 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: SF1126 is a vascular-targeted pan-PI-3K inhibitor prodrug with antitumor and antiangiogenic activity and has completed phase I clinical trial in solid tumors and B-cell malignancies. In this study, we investigated the effect of SF1126 on hypoxic HIF-1α/HIF-2α stability as well as on antitumor and/or antiangiogenic activity in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) models in vitro and in vivo.
METHODS: The effect of SF1126 on hypoxic HIF-1α/HIF-2α protein stability, antitumor and antiangiogenic activity was studied on VHL-null (786-0) and VHL-WT (Caki) RCC cells.
RESULTS: Our data demonstrate that SF1126 treatment abrogates the stabilization of HIF-2α in 786-0 (VHL-mutated) RCC cell line under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Similarly, hypoxic stabilization of HIF-1α and its activity were also suppressed following SF1126 treatment in Caki cell line (VHL-WT). Herein, we provide mechanistic evidence that HIF-2α can be degraded in cytoplasm under hypoxic conditions via the 26S proteasome and that MDM2 is the E3 ligase which induces the hypoxic degradation of HIF-2α in PI-3K-dependent manner in VHL-deficient RCC cells. Moreover, SF1126 administered to RCC-xenografted mice at 25 mg/kg/dose subcutaneously three times per week for 3 weeks results in marked inhibition of tumor growth (>90 % inhibition) (P < 0.05). Consistent with SF1126 treatment's effects on HIF-1α/HIF-2α, microvessel density analysis of Caki and 786-0 tumor tissues demonstrated that SF1126 has potent antiangiogenic activity in vivo. Finally, SF1126 caused a profound inhibition of integrin-mediated migration and blocked the integrin-induced conversion of GDP-Rac1 to its GTP-bound active state.
CONCLUSIONS: These results validate the in vivo efficacy of SF1126 as a clinically viable antiangiogenic, pan-PI-3K inhibitor prodrug for phase II clinical trials in the treatment of RCC.

Gossage L, Eisen T, Maher ER
VHL, the story of a tumour suppressor gene.
Nat Rev Cancer. 2015; 15(1):55-64 [PubMed] Related Publications
Since the Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease tumour suppressor gene VHL was identified in 1993 as the genetic basis for a rare disorder, it has proved to be of wide medical and scientific interest. VHL tumour suppressor protein (pVHL) plays a key part in cellular oxygen sensing by targeting hypoxia-inducible factors for ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation. Early inactivation of VHL is commonly seen in clear-cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC), and insights gained from the functional analysis of pVHL have provided the foundation for the routine treatment of advanced-stage ccRCC with novel targeted therapies. However, recent sequencing studies have identified additional driver genes that are involved in the pathogenesis of ccRCC. As our understanding of the importance of VHL matures, it is timely to review progress from its initial description to current knowledge of VHL biology, as well as future prospects for novel medical treatments for VHL disease and ccRCC.

Hall DP, Cost NG, Hegde S, et al.
TRPM3 and miR-204 establish a regulatory circuit that controls oncogenic autophagy in clear cell renal cell carcinoma.
Cancer Cell. 2014; 26(5):738-53 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 10/11/2015 Related Publications
Autophagy promotes tumor growth by generating nutrients from the degradation of intracellular structures. Here we establish, using shRNAs, a dominant-negative mutant, and a pharmacologic inhibitor, mefenamic acid (MFA), that the Transient Receptor Potential Melastatin 3 (TRPM3) channel promotes the growth of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) and stimulates MAP1LC3A (LC3A) and MAP1LC3B (LC3B) autophagy. Increased expression of TRPM3 in RCC leads to Ca(2+) influx, activation of CAMKK2, AMPK, and ULK1, and phagophore formation. In addition, TRPM3 Ca(2+) and Zn(2+) fluxes inhibit miR-214, which directly targets LC3A and LC3B. The von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor (VHL) represses TRPM3 directly through miR-204 and indirectly through another miR-204 target, Caveolin 1 (CAV1).

Ding XF, Zhou J, Hu QY, et al.
The tumor suppressor pVHL down-regulates never-in-mitosis A-related kinase 8 via hypoxia-inducible factors to maintain cilia in human renal cancer cells.
J Biol Chem. 2015; 290(3):1389-94 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 16/01/2016 Related Publications
NEK8 (never in mitosis gene A (NIMA)-related kinase 8) is involved in cytoskeleton, cilia, and DNA damage response/repair. Abnormal expression and/or dysfunction of NEK8 are related to cancer development and progression. However, the mechanisms that regulate NEK8 are not well declared. We demonstrated here that pVHL may be involved in regulating NEK8. We found that CAK-I cells with wild-type vhl expressed a lower level of NEK8 than the cells loss of vhl, such as 786-O, 769-P, and A-498 cells. Moreover, pVHL overexpression down-regulated the NEK8 protein in 786-O cells, whereas pVHL knockdown up-regulated NEK8 in CAK-I cells. In addition, we found that the positive hypoxia response elements (HREs) are located in the promoter of the nek8 sequence and hypoxia could induce nek8 expression in different cell types. Consistent with this, down-regulation of hypoxia-inducible factors α (HIF-1α or HIF-2α) by isoform-specific siRNA reduced the ability of hypoxia inducing nek8 expression. In vivo, NEK8 and HIF-1α expression were increased in kidneys of rats subjected to an experimental hypoxia model of ischemia and reperfusion. Furthermore, NEK8 siRNA transfection significantly blocked pVHL-knockdown-induced cilia disassembling, through impairing the pVHL-knockdown-up-regulated NEK8 expression. These results support that nek8 may be a novel hypoxia-inducible gene. In conclusion, our findings show that nek8 may be a new HIF target gene and pVHL can down-regulate NEK8 via HIFs to maintain the primary cilia structure in human renal cancer cells.

Frew IJ, Moch H
A clearer view of the molecular complexity of clear cell renal cell carcinoma.
Annu Rev Pathol. 2015; 10:263-89 [PubMed] Related Publications
The von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene is mutated as an early event in almost all cases of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC), the most frequent form of kidney cancer. In this review we discuss recent advances in understanding how dysregulation of the many hypoxia-inducible factor α-dependent and -independent functions of the VHL tumor suppressor protein (pVHL) can contribute to tumor initiation and progression. Recent evidence showing extensive inter- and intratumoral genetic diversity has given rise to the idea that ccRCC should actually be considered as a series of molecularly related, yet distinct, diseases defined by the pattern of combinatorial genetic alterations present within the cells of the tumor. We highlight the range of genetic and epigenetic alterations that recur in ccRCC and discuss the mechanisms through which these events appear to function cooperatively with a loss of pVHL function in tumorigenesis.

Macías D, Fernández-Agüera MC, Bonilla-Henao V, López-Barneo J
Deletion of the von Hippel-Lindau gene causes sympathoadrenal cell death and impairs chemoreceptor-mediated adaptation to hypoxia.
EMBO Mol Med. 2014; 6(12):1577-92 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 16/01/2016 Related Publications
Mutations of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene are associated with pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas, but the role of VHL in sympathoadrenal homeostasis is unknown. We generated mice lacking Vhl in catecholaminergic cells. They exhibited atrophy of the carotid body (CB), adrenal medulla, and sympathetic ganglia. Vhl-null animals had an increased number of adult CB stem cells, although the survival of newly generated neuron-like glomus cells was severely compromised. The effects of Vhl deficiency were neither prevented by pharmacological inhibition of prolyl hydroxylases or selective genetic down-regulation of prolyl hydroxylase-3, nor phenocopied by hypoxia inducible factor overexpression. Vhl-deficient animals appeared normal in normoxia but survived for only a few days in hypoxia, presenting with pronounced erythrocytosis, pulmonary edema, and right cardiac hypertrophy. Therefore, in the normal sympathoadrenal setting, Vhl deletion does not give rise to tumors but impairs development and plasticity of the peripheral O₂-sensing system required for survival in hypoxic conditions.

Couvé S, Ladroue C, Laine E, et al.
Genetic evidence of a precisely tuned dysregulation in the hypoxia signaling pathway during oncogenesis.
Cancer Res. 2014; 74(22):6554-64 [PubMed] Related Publications
The classic model of tumor suppression implies that malignant transformation requires full "two-hit" inactivation of a tumor-suppressor gene. However, more recent work in mice has led to the proposal of a "continuum" model that involves more fluid concepts such as gene dosage-sensitivity and tissue specificity. Mutations in the tumor-suppressor gene von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) are associated with a complex spectrum of conditions. Homozygotes or compound heterozygotes for the R200W germline mutation in VHL have Chuvash polycythemia, whereas heterozygous carriers are free of disease. Individuals with classic, heterozygous VHL mutations have VHL disease and are at high risk of multiple tumors (e.g., CNS hemangioblastomas, pheochromocytoma, and renal cell carcinoma). We report here an atypical family bearing two VHL gene mutations in cis (R200W and R161Q), together with phenotypic analysis, structural modeling, functional, and transcriptomic studies of these mutants in comparison with classical mutants involved in the different VHL phenotypes. We demonstrate that the complex pattern of disease manifestations observed in VHL syndrome is perfectly correlated with a gradient of VHL protein (pVHL) dysfunction in hypoxia signaling pathways. Thus, by studying naturally occurring familial mutations, our work validates in humans the "continuum" model of tumor suppression.

Randall JM, Millard F, Kurzrock R
Molecular aberrations, targeted therapy, and renal cell carcinoma: current state-of-the-art.
Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2014; 33(4):1109-24 [PubMed] Related Publications
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is among the most prevalent malignancies in the USA. Most RCCs are sporadic, but hereditary syndromes associated with RCC account for 2-3 % of cases and include von Hippel-Lindau, hereditary leiomyomatosis, Birt-Hogg-Dube, tuberous sclerosis, hereditary papillary RCC, and familial renal carcinoma. In the past decade, our understanding of the genetic mutations associated with sporadic forms of RCC has increased considerably, with the most common mutations in clear cell RCC seen in the VHL, PBRM1, BAP1, and SETD2 genes. Among these, BAP1 mutations are associated with aggressive disease and decreased survival. Several targeted therapies for advanced RCC have been approved and include sunitinib, sorafenib, pazopanib, axitinib (tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGFR) activity), everolimus, and temsirolimus (TKIs that inhibit mTORC1, the downstream part of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway). High-dose interleukin 2 (IL-2) immunotherapy and the combination of bevacizumab plus interferon-α are also approved treatments. At present, there are no predictive genetic markers to direct therapy for RCC, perhaps because the vast majority of trials have been evaluated in unselected patient populations, with advanced metastatic disease. This review will focus on our current understanding of the molecular genetics of RCC, and how this may inform therapeutics.

Wang SS, Gu YF, Wolff N, et al.
Bap1 is essential for kidney function and cooperates with Vhl in renal tumorigenesis.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(46):16538-43 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 16/01/2016 Related Publications
Why different species are predisposed to different tumor spectra is not well understood. In particular, whether the physical location of tumor suppressor genes relative to one another influences tumor predisposition is unknown. Renal cancer presents a unique opportunity to explore this question. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) of clear-cell type (ccRCC), the most common type, begins with an intragenic mutation in the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene and loss of 3p (where VHL is located). Chromosome 3p harbors several additional tumor suppressor genes, including BRCA1-associated protein-1 (BAP1). In the mouse, Vhl is on a different chromosome than Bap1. Thus, whereas loss of 3p in humans simultaneously deletes one copy of BAP1, loss of heterozygosity in the corresponding Vhl region in the mouse would not affect Bap1. To test the role of BAP1 in ccRCC development, we generated mice deficient for either Vhl or Vhl together with one allele of Bap1 in nephron progenitor cells. Six2-Cre;Vhl(F/F);Bap1(F/+) mice developed ccRCC, but Six2-Cre;Vhl(F/F) mice did not. Kidneys from Six2-Cre;Vhl(F/F);Bap1(F/+) mice resembled kidneys from humans with VHL syndrome, containing multiple lesions spanning from benign cysts to cystic and solid RCC. Although the tumors were small, they showed nuclear atypia and exhibited features of human ccRCC. These results provide an explanation for why VHL heterozygous humans, but not mice, develop ccRCC. They also explain why a mouse model of ccRCC has been lacking. More broadly, our data suggest that differences in tumor predisposition across species may be explained, at least in part, by differences in the location of two-hit tumor suppressor genes across the genome.

Hu H, Takano N, Xiang L, et al.
Hypoxia-inducible factors enhance glutamate signaling in cancer cells.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(19):8853-68 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 16/01/2016 Related Publications
Signaling through glutamate receptors has been reported in human cancers, but the molecular mechanisms are not fully delineated. We report that in hepatocellular carcinoma and clear cell renal carcinoma cells, increased activity of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) due to hypoxia or VHL loss-of-function, respectively, augmented release of glutamate, which was mediated by HIF-dependent expression of the SLC1A1 and SLC1A3 genes encoding glutamate transporters. In addition, HIFs coordinately regulated expression of the GRIA2 and GRIA3 genes, which encode glutamate receptors. Binding of glutamate to its receptors activated SRC family kinases and downstream pathways, which stimulated cancer cell proliferation, apoptosis resistance, migration and invasion in different cancer cell lines. Thus, coordinate regulation of glutamate transporters and receptors by HIFs was sufficient to activate key signal transduction pathways that promote cancer progression.

Dere R, Perkins AL, Bawa-Khalfe T, et al.
β-catenin links von Hippel-Lindau to aurora kinase A and loss of primary cilia in renal cell carcinoma.
J Am Soc Nephrol. 2015; 26(3):553-64 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene mutations are associated with clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). A hallmark of ccRCC is loss of the primary cilium. Loss of this key organelle in ccRCC is caused by loss of VHL and associated with increased Aurora kinase A (AURKA) and histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) activities, which drive disassembly of the primary cilium. However, the underlying mechanism by which VHL loss increases AURKA levels has not been clearly elucidated, although it has been suggested that hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) mediates increased AURKA expression in VHL-null cells. By contrast, we found that elevated AURKA expression is not increased by HIF-1α, suggesting an alternate mechanism for AURKA dysregulation in VHL-null cells. We report here that AURKA expression is driven by β-catenin transcription in VHL-null cells. In a panel of RCC cell lines, we observed nuclear accumulation of β-catenin and increased AURKA signaling to HDAC6. Moreover, HIF-1α inhibited AURKA expression by inhibiting β-catenin transcription. VHL knockdown activated β-catenin and elevated AURKA expression, decreased primary cilia formation, and caused significant shortening of cilia length in cells that did form cilia. The β-catenin responsive transcription inhibitor iCRT14 reduced AURKA levels and rescued ciliary defects, inducing a significant increase in primary cilia formation in VHL-deficient cells. These data define a role for β-catenin in regulating AURKA and formation of primary cilia in the setting of VHL deficiency, opening new avenues for treatment with β-catenin inhibitors to rescue ciliogenesis in ccRCC.

Ikeda K, Osumi H, Matsuishi K, et al.
Multiple lung adenocarcinomas associated with von hippel-lindau disease.
Ann Thorac Surg. 2014; 98(4):1467-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
Lung adenocarcinoma has never before been reported to be associated with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease. Here, we report a case of VHL disease in a patient who had metachronous multiple lung adenocarcinomas. The patient is a 64-year-old-woman with VHL disease. She underwent surgical resection of one adenocarcinoma and one atypical adenomatous hyperplasia. A second lung adenocarcinoma developed metachronously. A point mutation in the VHL gene was confirmed in DNA from a blood sample, and loss of heterozygosity at the VHL locus was detected in the lung adenocarcinoma. The VHL dysfunction may have a role in the development of multiple lung adenocarcinomas.

Wang WC, Tsou MH, Chen HJ, et al.
Two single nucleotide polymorphisms in the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene in Taiwanese with renal cell carcinoma.
BMC Res Notes. 2014; 7:638 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Renal cell carcinoma, a common malignant tumor arising from the kidney, occurs in 3.62 and 1.95 cases per one hundred thousand people among men and women, respectively, in Taiwan each year. Approximately 80% of cases are classified as clear-cell renal cell carcinoma. Inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene has been implicated in the tumorigenic pathway of renal cell carcinoma. Two single nucleotide polymorphisms, rs779805 and rs1642742, located in the promoter and 3' untranslated regions of the von Hippel-Lindau gene are informative and implicated in the occurrence of renal cell carcinoma worldwide. The aim of this study is to clarify whether these polymorphisms are associated with renal cell carcinoma in Taiwanese. Genomic DNA was isolated from normal and tumor tissues of 19 renal cell carcinoma patients. The samples were screened for allelic polymorphisms by restriction fragment length polymorphism with BsaJ I and Acc I digestion. Reconfirmation was carried out by direct sequencing.
RESULTS: Consistent with Knudson's two-hit theory, AA to AG somatic mutations were observed in rs779805. In addition, loss of heterozygosity in both rs779805 and rs1642742 was demonstrated in 10 out of 15 RCC patients aged 50 or over. The G allele or AG heterozygote frequencies at these two loci were much higher in patient germline DNA when compared with the control group. After adjusting for age, the frequency of the G allele in both loci was much higher for late onset renal cell carcinoma in the Taiwanese population.
CONCLUSIONS: Our current results confirmed that the existence of G allele in both rs779805 and rs1642742 in the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene is of importance in renal cell carcinoma tumorigenesis. However, more comprehensive and detailed research is needed to address the clinical relevance. Larger sample size is required to determine the exact power of correlation between these two genetic polymorphisms and renal cell carcinoma.

Ho TH, Jonasch E
Genetic kidney cancer syndromes.
J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2014; 12(9):1347-55 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hereditary forms of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) have yielded clues regarding the molecular pathogenesis of sporadic RCC. The discovery of germline mutations in chromatin-modulating enzymes also defined a new hereditary RCC syndrome. Although histologically distinct RCC subtypes exist, emerging themes shared between hereditary and sporadic RCC include dysregulation of the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein/hypoxia inducible factor axis, defective ciliogenesis, and aberrant tumor metabolism. This article describes the most common hereditary RCC syndromes and associated extrarenal manifestations. Recent evidence supports developing screening guidelines for early-onset RCC to identify persons with germline mutations in the absence of secondary clinical manifestations.

Rankin EB, Fuh KC, Castellini L, et al.
Direct regulation of GAS6/AXL signaling by HIF promotes renal metastasis through SRC and MET.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(37):13373-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
Dysregulation of the von Hippel-Lindau/hypoxia-inducible transcription factor (HIF) signaling pathway promotes clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) progression and metastasis. The protein kinase GAS6/AXL signaling pathway has recently been implicated as an essential mediator of metastasis and receptor tyrosine kinase crosstalk in cancer. Here we establish a molecular link between HIF stabilization and induction of AXL receptor expression in metastatic ccRCC. We found that HIF-1 and HIF-2 directly activate the expression of AXL by binding to the hypoxia-response element in the AXL proximal promoter. Importantly, genetic and therapeutic inactivation of AXL signaling in metastatic ccRCC cells reversed the invasive and metastatic phenotype in vivo. Furthermore, we define a pathway by which GAS6/AXL signaling uses lateral activation of the met proto-oncogene (MET) through SRC proto-oncogene nonreceptor tyrosine kinase to maximize cellular invasion. Clinically, AXL expression in primary tumors of ccRCC patients correlates with aggressive tumor behavior and patient lethality. These findings provide an alternative model for SRC and MET activation by growth arrest-specific 6 in ccRCC and identify AXL as a therapeutic target driving the aggressive phenotype in renal clear cell carcinoma.

Bailey ST, Zhou B, Damrauer JS, et al.
mTOR inhibition induces compensatory, therapeutically targetable MEK activation in renal cell carcinoma.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(9):e104413 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
Rapamycin derivatives allosterically targeting mTOR are currently FDA approved to treat advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), and catalytic inhibitors of mTOR/PI3K are now in clinical trials for treating various solid tumors. We sought to investigate the relative efficacy of allosteric versus catalytic mTOR inhibition, evaluate the crosstalk between the mTOR and MEK/ERK pathways, as well as the therapeutic potential of dual mTOR and MEK inhibition in RCC. Pharmacologic (rapamycin and BEZ235) and genetic manipulation of the mTOR pathway were evaluated by in vitro assays as monotherapy as well as in combination with MEK inhibition (GSK1120212). Catalytic mTOR inhibition with BEZ235 decreased proliferation and increased apoptosis better than allosteric mTOR inhibition with rapamycin. While mTOR inhibition upregulated MEK/ERK signaling, concurrent inhibition of both pathways had enhanced therapeutic efficacy. Finally, primary RCC tumors could be classified into subgroups [(I) MEK activated, (II) Dual MEK and mTOR activated, (III) Not activated, and (IV) mTOR activated] based on their relative activation of the PI3K/mTOR and MEK pathways. Patients with mTOR only activated tumors had the worst prognosis. In summary, dual targeting of the mTOR and MEK pathways in RCC can enhance therapeutic efficacy and primary RCC can be subclassified based on their relative levels of mTOR and MEK activation with potential therapeutic implications.

Peckova K, Grossmann P, Bulimbasic S, et al.
Renal cell carcinoma with leiomyomatous stroma--further immunohistochemical and molecular genetic characteristics of unusual entity.
Ann Diagn Pathol. 2014; 18(5):291-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) with leiomyomatous stroma (RCCLS) is a recently recognized entity with indolent biological behavior. The diagnostic implication of absence/presence of VHL gene mutation, VHL hypermethylation, or/and loss of heterozygosity of chromosome 3p (LOH 3p) is widely discussed. Criteria for establishing a diagnosis of RCCLS are still lacking. Fifteen RCCLSs were retrieved from our registry. The cases were studied with consideration to the morphology, immunohistochemistry, and molecular genetics. All cases were composed of low-grade epithelial cells with clear cytoplasm arranged in nests intermingled with abundant leiomyomatous stroma. Age range of the patients was 33 to 78 years. The tumor size ranged from 1.5 to 11 cm. Six of the patients were males, and 9, females. Of the 15 tumors sent for molecular genetic testing, only 12 cases were analyzable. All cases were analyzable immunohistochemically. Of 12 of these cases, 5 showed complete absence of VHL gene mutation, VHL hypermethylation, and LOH 3p. Of these 5 cases, 3 were positive for cytokeratin 7 (CK 7). All of the 5 cases were positive for carbonic anhydrase 9, vimentin, and CD10. The remaining 7 of 12 genetically analyzable cases were found to have had VHL hypermethylation, LOH 3p, VHL gene mutation, or a combination of the former 2 characteristics. These 7 cases were positive for vimentin. Variable reactivity was found for CK 7, carbonic anhydrase 9, α-methylacyl-CoA racemase, and CD10. In 1 of these 7 cases, gains on chromosomes 7 and 17 as well as hypermethylation of VHL gene were found. This case was considered as clear cell RCC with aberrant status of chromosomes 7 and 17.
CONCLUSIONS: (1) Leiomyomatous stroma is not specific for the so called RCCLS. It can be seen also in otherwise typical clear cell RCCs. (2) There are no characteristic morphological/immunohistochemical features unique for "RCCLS." (3) Our results indicate that only tumors with the absence of the VHL gene mutation, hypermethylation, and LOH 3p can be diagnosed as RCCLS. (4) Relation of RCCs with a prominent smooth muscle stroma to the renal angiomyoadenomatous tumor/clear cell papillary (tubopapillary) RCC is not clearly evident from our study and has to be further analyzed on larger cohort of the patients.

Kim YH, Yoo KC, Cui YH, et al.
Radiation promotes malignant progression of glioma cells through HIF-1alpha stabilization.
Cancer Lett. 2014; 354(1):132-41 [PubMed] Related Publications
Given its contribution to malignant phenotypes of cancer, tumor hypoxia has been considered as a potential therapeutic problem. In the stressful microenvironment condition, hypoxia inducible factor 1 (HIF1) is well known to mediate the transcriptional adaptation of cells to hypoxia and acts as a central player for the process of hypoxia-driven malignant cancer progression. Here, we found that irradiation causes the HIF1α protein to stabilize, even in normoxia condition through activation of p38 MAPK, thereby promoting angiogenesis in tumor microenvironment and infiltrative property of glioma cells. Notably, irradiation reduced hydroxylation of HIF1α through destabilization of prolyl hydroxylases (PHD)-2. Moreover, radiation also decreased the half-life of protein von Hippel-Lindau (pVHL), which is a specific E3 ligase for HIF1α. Of note, inhibition of p38 MAPK attenuated radiation-induced stabilization of HIF1α through destabilization of PHD-2 and pVHL. In agreement with these results, targeting of either p38 MAPK, HIF1α, pVHL or PHD-2 effectively mitigated the radiation-induced tube formation of human brain-derived micro-vessel endothelial cells (HB-MEC) and infiltration of glioma cells. Taken together, our findings suggest that targeting HIF1α in combination with ionizing radiation might increase the efficacy of radiotherapy for glioma treatment.

Motzer RJ, Hutson TE, Hudes GR, et al.
Investigation of novel circulating proteins, germ line single-nucleotide polymorphisms, and molecular tumor markers as potential efficacy biomarkers of first-line sunitinib therapy for advanced renal cell carcinoma.
Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2014; 74(4):739-50 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
PURPOSE: Sunitinib is a first-line advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) standard of care. In a randomized phase II trial comparing sunitinib treatment schedules, separate exploratory biomarker analyses investigated the correlations of efficacy with selected serum, germ line single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), or tumor markers.
METHODS: Advanced RCC patients received first-line sunitinib 50 mg/day on the approved 4-week-on-2-week-off schedule (n = 146) or 37.5 mg/day continuous dosing (n = 146). The following correlation analyses were performed: (1) response evaluation criteria in solid tumors-defined tumor response with serum soluble protein levels via two distinct multiplex (n < 1,000) platforms; (2) response and time-to-event outcomes with germ line SNPs in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A and VEGF receptor (VEGFR)3 genes; and (3) response and time-to-event outcomes with tumor immunohistochemistry status for hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF-1α) and carbonic anhydrase-IX or tumor Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene inactivation status.
RESULTS: Lower baseline angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) and higher baseline matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) levels were identified by both platforms as statistically significantly associated with tumor response. There were no significant correlations between VEGF-A or VEGFR3 SNPs and outcomes. Progression-free survival was longer for HIF-1α percent of tumor expression groups 0-2 (HIF-1α low) versus 3-4 (HIF-1α high; p = 0.034). There were no significant correlations between outcomes and each VHL inactivation mechanism [mutation (86% of VHL-inactive patients), methylation (14%), and large deletion (7%)] or mechanisms combined.
CONCLUSIONS: Serum Ang-2 and MMP-2 and tumor HIF-1α were identified as relevant baseline biomarkers of sunitinib activity in advanced RCC, warranting further research into their prognostic versus predictive value.

Xi H, Gao YH, Han DY, et al.
Hypoxia inducible factor-1α suppresses Peroxiredoxin 3 expression to promote proliferation of CCRCC cells.
FEBS Lett. 2014; 588(18):3390-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
Peroxiredoxin 3 (Prx3) is a mitochondrial member of the antioxidant family of thioredoxin peroxidases that uses mitochondrial thioredoxin 2 as a source of reducing equivalents to scavenge hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Here, we report that the protein levels of Prx3 are significantly reduced in VHL-deficient clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CCRCC). Furthermore, stabilization of HIF-1α protein, caused either by VHL deficiency under normoxia, or by hypoxia, significantly reduced Prx3 expression. Luciferase-reporter and chromatin-immunoprecipitation assays indicated that HIF-1α binds to the hypoxia-responsive elements of PRDX3 promoter and represses its transcription. Finally, shRNA-based assays suggested that Prx3 downregulation is required for the HIF-1α-dependent proliferation of CCRCC cells. Taken together, our results shed new light onto the mechanism of HIF-1α-dependent proliferation in CCRCC cells.

Chen J, Ruan X, Wang S, et al.
Antitumor effect and biological pathways of a recombinant adeno-associated virus as a human renal cell carcinoma suppressor.
Tumour Biol. 2014; 35(11):10993-1003 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
The aims of this work are to study the antitumor effect of the adeno-associated virus on the xenografted tumors of chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane and predict potential genes and biological pathways which are associated with renal cell carcinoma. The adeno-associated virus NT4-TAT-6 × His-VHLbeta was constructed and identified. Then, chick embryos with xenografted tumor were divided into three groups and respectively inoculated with rAAV/NT4-TAT-6 × His-VHLbeta (group A), empty virus (group B), and phosphate-buffered saline (group C, the control subject). Antitumor effect in each group was investigated by means of immunofluorescence observation. Genes interacted with von Hippel-Lindau were screened by Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes/Proteins database, while pathway analysis were performed based on Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes. The growth of xenografted tumors inoculated with recombinant adeno-associated virus was slower than the control subjects. The tumor volumes of group A showed significant difference compared with group B and group C (P < 0.05). Growth of xenografted tumors which administered with the recombinant adeno-associated virus was inhibited. Among the protein-protein interaction network, TCEB2, HIF1A, TCEB1, CUL2, RBX1, and PHF17 were hub genes which might be involved in the development of renal cell carcinoma. The most significant signaling pathway was renal cell carcinoma. In this paper, we constructed and identified the recombinant adeno-associated virus NT4-TAT-6 × His-VHLbeta and studied the antitumor effect of the adeno-associated virus on xenografted tumors of chicken embryo chorioallantoic membrane. In addition, genes in the protein-protein interaction network which are associated with renal cell carcinoma were revealed and the biological pathway of renal cell carcinoma was identified. Our results provide a gene-therapeutic agent for the treatment of human renal cell carcinoma.

Alves MR, Carneiro FC, Lavorato-Rocha AM, et al.
Mutational status of VHL gene and its clinical importance in renal clear cell carcinoma.
Virchows Arch. 2014; 465(3):321-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
The most common subtype of renal cell carcinoma is the clear cell type (ccRCC), accounting for 75 % of cases. Inactivation of VHL gene is thought to be an early event in ccRCC carcinogenesis. Our intention was to assess whether VHL mutational status might provide useful predictive or prognostic information in patients with ccRCC. VHL messenger RNA (mRNA) expression was analyzed by in situ hybridization and its protein by immunohistochemistry on a tissue microarray containing samples from 148 cases. This was validated by qRT-PCR on 62 cases, for which RNA was available. The mutation status was assessed in 91 cases by Sanger sequencing. VHL was found mutated in 57 % of cases, with missense mutations in 26 %, nonsense in 5 %, splice site in 13 %, deletions in 39 %, indels in 8 %, duplications in 8 %, and insertions in 2 % of the cases. The prevalence of mutations by exon was the following: exon 1, 47 %; exon 2, 27 %; and exon 3, 13 %. VHL protein was expressed in a high number of cases (80 %), but significant correlations were not found between protein expression, clinical data, and survival. Importantly, of the 91 samples evaluated by sequencing, 45 were mutated, and 87 % of those were strongly positive. We found 32 novel mutations in the VHL gene in ccRCC. The presence of mutations was not concordant with mRNA or protein expression. Nonsense mutations of the VHL gene appear to be related with poorer prognosis and survival.

Sampson VB, David JM, Puig I, et al.
Wilms' tumor protein induces an epithelial-mesenchymal hybrid differentiation state in clear cell renal cell carcinoma.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(7):e102041 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
The Wilms' tumor transcription factor (WT1) was originally classified as a tumor suppressor, but it is now known to also be associated with cancer progression and poor prognosis in several malignancies. WT1 plays an essential role in orchestrating a developmental process known as mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) during kidney development, but also induces the reverse process, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) during heart development. WT1 is not expressed in the adult kidney, but shows elevated expression in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). However, the role of WT1 in this disease has not been characterized. In this study, we demonstrate that WT1 is upregulated in ccRCC cells that are deficient in the expression of the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein (VHL). We found that WT1 transcriptionally activated Snail, a master transcriptional repressor that is known to induce EMT. Although Snail represses E-cadherin and induces mesenchymal characteristics, we found partial maintenance of E-cadherin and associated epithelial characteristics in kidney cells and ccRCC cells that express WT1, since WT1 upregulates E-cadherin expression and competes with Snail repression. These findings support a novel paradigm in which WT1 induces an epithelial-mesenchymal hybrid transition (EMHT), characterized by Snail up-regulation with E-cadherin maintenance, a tumor cell differentiation state in which cancer cells keep both EMT and MET characteristics which may promote tumor cell plasticity and tumor progression.

Pritchett TL, Bader HL, Henderson J, Hsu T
Conditional inactivation of the mouse von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene results in wide-spread hyperplastic, inflammatory and fibrotic lesions in the kidney.
Oncogene. 2015; 34(20):2631-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mutations of the tumor suppressor gene von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) can lead to benign and malignant tumors, including clear-cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). To understand the progression of ccRCC, we generated a novel mouse Vhlh conditional knockout, using Hoxb7-driven Cre that is specific for the collecting ducts and a subset of distal tubules. These mice exhibited wide-spread epithelial disruption and interstitial inflammation as early as 2 months of age with high penetrance. Lesions are cystic, show severe fibrosis and display significant hyperplasia. An abundance of infiltrating macrophages and lymphocytes was detected. Interestingly, the Vhlh mutant lesions could be rescued when Hif-1α, but not Hif-2α, was also knocked out. In addition, administration of a JAK1/2 kinase inhibitor alleviated the Vhlh knockout phenotypes. Taken together, these results suggest that HIF-1α-dependent inflammation and fibrosis may be an early event in the development of ccRCC.

Zhou MJ, Chen FZ, Chen HC
Ubiquitination involved enzymes and cancer.
Med Oncol. 2014; 31(8):93 [PubMed] Related Publications
Ubiquitination is a post-translational modification process that regulates multiple cell functions. It also plays important roles in the development of cancer. Mechanistically, ubiquitination is a complex process that is comprised of a series of events involving ubiquitin-activating enzymes, ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes and ubiquitin ligases. In general, covalent attachment of ubiquitin to the target proteins marks them for degradation. Dysregulation of the ubiquitination process may cause carcinogenesis. In this review, we summarize recent developments in understanding the relationship between ubiquitination enzymes and carcinogenesis.

de Haas S, Delmar P, Bansal AT, et al.
Genetic variability of VEGF pathway genes in six randomized phase III trials assessing the addition of bevacizumab to standard therapy.
Angiogenesis. 2014; 17(4):909-20 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Despite extensive translational research, no validated biomarkers predictive of bevacizumab treatment outcome have been identified.
METHODS: We performed a meta-analysis of individual patient data from six randomized phase III trials in colorectal, pancreatic, lung, renal, breast, and gastric cancer to explore the potential relationships between 195 common genetic variants in the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway and bevacizumab treatment outcome.
RESULTS: The analysis included 1,402 patients (716 bevacizumab-treated and 686 placebo-treated). Twenty variants were associated (P < 0.05) with progression-free survival (PFS) in bevacizumab-treated patients. Of these, 4 variants in EPAS1 survived correction for multiple testing (q < 0.05). Genotype-by-treatment interaction tests revealed that, across these 20 variants, 3 variants in VEGF-C (rs12510099), EPAS1 (rs4953344), and IL8RA (rs2234671) were potentially predictive (P < 0.05), but not resistant to multiple testing (q > 0.05). A weak genotype-by-treatment interaction effect was also observed for rs699946 in VEGF-A, whereas Bayesian genewise analysis revealed that genetic variability in VHL was associated with PFS in the bevacizumab arm (q < 0.05). Variants in VEGF-A, EPAS1, and VHL were located in expression quantitative loci derived from lymphoblastoid cell lines, indicating that they affect the expression levels of their respective gene.
CONCLUSIONS: This large genetic analysis suggests that variants in VEGF-A, EPAS1, IL8RA, VHL, and VEGF-C have potential value in predicting bevacizumab treatment outcome across tumor types. Although these associations did not survive correction for multiple testing in a genotype-by-interaction analysis, they are among the strongest predictive effects reported to date for genetic variants and bevacizumab efficacy.

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