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Hypoxia inducible factor signaling in breast tumors controls spontaneous tumor dissemination in a site-specific manner


Todd VMVera M , Vecchi LALawrence A , Clements MEMiranda E , Snow KPKatherine P , Ontko CDCayla D , Himmel LLauren , Pinelli CChristopher , Rafat MMarjan , Johnson RWRachelle W . Communications biology. 2021 9 23; 4(1). 1122


Hypoxia is a common feature in tumors and induces signaling that promotes tumor cell survival, invasion, and metastasis, but the impact of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) signaling in the primary tumor on dissemination to bone in particular remains unclear. To better understand the contributions of hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF1α), HIF2α, and general HIF pathway activation in metastasis, we employ a PyMT-driven spontaneous murine mammary carcinoma model with mammary specific deletion of Hif1α, Hif2α, or von Hippel-Lindau factor (Vhl) using the Cre-lox system. Here we show that Hif1α or Hif2α deletion in the primary tumor decreases metastatic tumor burden in the bone marrow, while Vhl deletion increases bone tumor burden, as hypothesized. Unexpectedly, Hif1α deletion increases metastatic tumor burden in the lung, while deletion of Hif2α or Vhl does not affect pulmonary metastasis. Mice with Hif1α deleted tumors also exhibit reduced bone volume as measured by micro computed tomography, suggesting that disruption of the osteogenic niche may be involved in the preference for lung dissemination observed in this group. Thus, we reveal that HIF signaling in breast tumors controls tumor dissemination in a site-specific manner.