High hypoxia-inducible factor-2 alpha (HIF-2 alpha) protein levels predict poor outcome in neuroblastoma, and hypoxia dedifferentiates cultured neuroblastoma cells toward a neural crest-like phenotype. Here, we identify HIF-2 alpha as a marker of normoxic neural crest-like neuroblastoma tumor-initiating/stem cells (TICs) isolated from patient bone marrows. Knockdown of HIF-2 alpha reduced VEGF expression and induced partial sympathetic neuronal differentiation when these TICs were grown in vitro under stem cell-promoting conditions. Xenograft tumors of HIF-2 alpha-silenced cells were widely necrotic, poorly vascularized, and resembled the bulk of tumor cells in clinical neuroblastomas by expressing additional sympathetic neuronal markers, whereas control tumors were immature, well-vascularized, and stroma-rich. Thus, HIF-2 alpha maintains an undifferentiated state of neuroblastoma TICs. Because low differentiation is associated with poor outcome and angiogenesis is crucial for tumor growth, HIF-2 alpha is an attractive target for neuroblastoma therapy.
The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Molecular Medicine (013031200), Division of Clinical Genetics (013022003), Stem Cell Center (013041110)
- Medical Genetics
- Cancer and Oncology
- Cell and Molecular Biology
- tumor stroma
- sympathetic nervous