Intratumoral hypoxia causes the formation of dysfunctional blood vessels, which contribute to tumor metastasis and reduce the efficacy of therapeutic treatments. Blood vessels are embedded in the tumor stroma of which cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) constitute a prominent cellular component. We found that hypoxic human mammary CAFs promoted angiogenesis in CAF-endothelial cell cocultures in vitro. Mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis of the CAF secretome unraveled that hypoxic CAFs contributed to blood vessel abnormalities by altering their secretion of various pro- and anti-angiogenic factors. Hypoxia induced pronounced remodeling of the CAF proteome, including proteins that have not been previously related to this process. Among those, the uncharacterized protein NCBP2-AS2 that we renamed HIAR (hypoxia-induced angiogenesis regulator) was the protein most increased in abundance in hypoxic CAFs. Silencing of HIAR abrogated the pro-angiogenic and pro-migratory function of hypoxic CAFs by decreasing secretion of the pro-angiogenic factor VEGFA and consequently reducing VEGF/VEGFR downstream signaling in the endothelial cells. Our study has identified a regulator of angiogenesis and provides a map of hypoxia-induced molecular alterations in mammary CAFs.
Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms
- Manchester Cancer Research Centre