HIF2A overexpression reduces cisplatin sensitivity in cervical cancer by inducing excessive autophagy

Lixia Jiang, Yu Xia, Tianyu Zhong, Huijuan Zhang, Qing Jin, Feng Li, Shaohua Shi

Abstract

Background: Hypoxia-induced autophagy is a crucial factor that induces chemotherapy resistance in tumor cells. As a key regulator facilitating the adaptation of solid tumors to hypoxia, the role of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) in regulating hypoxia-induced chemotherapy resistance and autophagy has been extensively studied. However, the majority of studies have mainly focused on HIF-1. Direct evidence concerning the role of HIF2A in cisplatin resistance is sparse, and its underlying mechanism is not yet known.
Methods: Animal models were constructed by subcutaneously injecting cervical cancer cells stably overexpressing HIF2A (LV-HIF2A) with or without intraperitoneal injection of cisplatin. Tumor size and weight were evaluated to determine tumor growth. Apoptosis was detected by TUNEL assay and protein expression by western blotting.
Results: Nude mice injected with cells overexpressing HIF2A showed larger and heavier tumors than those in mice injected with negative control lentivirus (LV-NC)-infected cells, with or without cisplatin. Fewer apoptotic cells were noted in tumor tissues from the LV-HIF2A group than from the LV-NC group, with or without cisplatin. Additionally, expression of the anti-apoptotic protein, B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL2), and autophagy-related proteins, beclin 1 and autophagy related 5 (ATG5), were found to be higher in the LV- HIF2A group than in the LV-NC group, regardless of cisplatin treatment. Moreover, expression of the pro- apoptotic protein, BCL2-associated X (BAX), was lower in tumor tissues from the LV-HIF2A group than from the LV-NC group. Effect of HIF2A overexpression on cisplatin sensitivity was found to be alleviated in vivo by the autophagy inhibitor, 3-methyladenine (3-MA).
Conclusions: HIF2A overexpression promoted tumor growth and autophagy but suppressed apoptosis in vivo, with or without cisplatin. The HIF2A overexpression-affected cisplatin sensitivity was alleviated by 3-MA. Therefore, we suggest that HIF2A overexpression reduces cisplatin sensitivity in cervical cancer by inducing excessive autophagy.