Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α promotes cell survival during ammonia stress response in ovarian cancer stem-like cells
Lee, Kian Leong
Huang, Ruby Yun-Ju
Date of Issue2017
School of Biological Sciences
Ammonia is a toxic by-product of metabolism that causes cellular stresses. Although a number of proteins are involved in adaptive stress response, specific factors that counteract ammonia-induced cellular stress and regulate cell metabolism to survive against its toxicity have yet to be identified. We demonstrated that the hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is stabilized and activated by ammonia stress. HIF-1α activated by ammonium chloride compromises ammonia-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, we identified glutamine synthetase (GS) as a key driver of cancer cell proliferation under ammonia stress and glutamine-dependent metabolism in ovarian cancer stem-like cells expressing CD90. Interestingly, activated HIF-1α counteracts glutamine synthetase function in glutamine metabolism by facilitating glycolysis and elevating glucose dependency. Our studies reveal the hitherto unknown functions of HIF-1α in a biphasic ammonia stress management in the cancer stem-like cells where GS facilitates cell proliferation and HIF-1α contributes to the metabolic remodeling in energy fuel usage resulting in attenuated proliferation but conversely promoting cell survival.
© 2017 The Author(s) (published by Impact Journals). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.