A HIF-LIMD1 negative feedback mechanism mitigates the pro-tumorigenic effects of hypoxia.
EMBO Mol Med
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The adaptive cellular response to low oxygen tensions is mediated by the hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs), a family of heterodimeric transcription factors composed of HIF-α and HIF-β subunits. Prolonged HIF expression is a key contributor to cellular transformation, tumorigenesis and metastasis. As such, HIF degradation under hypoxic conditions is an essential homeostatic and tumour-suppressive mechanism. LIMD1 complexes with PHD2 and VHL in physiological oxygen levels (normoxia) to facilitate proteasomal degradation of the HIF-α subunit. Here, we identify LIMD1 as a HIF-1 target gene, which mediates a previously uncharacterised, negative regulatory feedback mechanism for hypoxic HIF-α degradation by modulating PHD2-LIMD1-VHL complex formation. Hypoxic induction of LIMD1 expression results in increased HIF-α protein degradation, inhibiting HIF-1 target gene expression, tumour growth and vascularisation. Furthermore, we report that copy number variation at the LIMD1 locus occurs in 47.1% of lung adenocarcinoma patients, correlates with enhanced expression of a HIF target gene signature and is a negative prognostic indicator. Taken together, our data open a new field of research into the aetiology, diagnosis and prognosis of LIMD1-negative lung cancers.