Hypoxia-induced secretion stimulates breast CSC regulatory signalling pathways

Hannah Harrison, Goran Landberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well known that tumour cells are dependent on communication with the tumour microenvironment. Previously, it has been shown that hypoxia (HX) induces pronounced, diverse and direct effects on cancer stem cell (CSC) qualities in different breast cancer subtypes. Here, we describe the mechanism by which HX‐induced secretion influences the spreading of CSCs. Conditioned media (CM) from estrogen receptor (ER)‐α‐positive hypoxic breast cancer cell cultures increased the fraction of CSCs compared to normal growth conditions, as determined using sets of CSC assays and model systems. In contrast, media from ERα‐negative hypoxic cell cultures instead decreased this key subpopulation of cancer cells. Further, there was a striking overrepresentation of JAK‐STAT‐associated cytokines in both the ERα‐positive and ERα‐negative linked hypoxic responses as determined by a protein screen of the CM. JAK‐STAT inhibitors and knockdown experiments further supported the hypothesis that this pathway is critical for the CSC‐activating and CSC‐inactivating effects induced by hypoxic secretion. We also observed that the interleukin‐6‐JAK2‐STAT3 axis was specifically central for the ERα‐negative hypoxic behaviour. Our results underline the importance of considering breast cancer subtypes in treatments targeting JAK‐STAT or HX‐associated processes and indicate that HX is not only a confined tumour biological event, but also influences key tumour properties in widespread normoxic microenvironments.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Oncology
Early online date26 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Cancer Research Centre


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