HIF-1 Regulation of Chondrocyte Apoptosis: Induction of the Autophagic Pathway

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The goal of our investigation was to explore the mechanism by which hypoxia regulates growth plate chondrocyte survival. At low O2 tension, chondrocytes were refractory to a staurosporine (i.e., apoptosis-inducing) challenge. To determine whether hypoxic survival was due to the expression of HIF-1, we evaluated the response of HIF silenced cells to staurosporine. Both, silenced cells and control chondrocytes were equally sensitive to the apoptogen challenge. To learn if resistance was mediated by the proteins of the autophagic pathway, we examined the expression of Beclin 1 and LC3. Both proteins were present in the growth plate as well as in N1511 chondrocytes. Moreover, silencing of Beclin 1 resulted in enhanced chondrocyte death. Thus, this gene served to maintain chondrocyte survival activity. Besides serving a cytoprotective role, it is known that autophagy can function in cell death. Accordingly, to ascertain if autophagy might also sensitize cells to apoptosis, we activated autophagy and examined viability following exposure to an apoptogen. Treatment with the autophagy inhibitor 3-methyladenine rendered the chondrocytes refractory to killing, suggesting that sustained autophagy promoted cell death. We next examined expression of BID and caspase-8. When autophagy was suppressed, chondrocytes promoted caspase-8 activation and activated BID. Finally, we explored the relationship between HIF-1 and Beclin 1. We noted a decrease in Beclin 1 expression and loss of caspase-8 activation in HIF silenced cells and Beclin 1-Bcl-2 association was maintained upon serum starvation. This study indicates that HIF-1 serves to regulate both autophagy and apoptosis. ©2007 Landes Bioscience.

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This article was published in Autophagy, Volume 3, Issue 3, Pages 207-214.

The published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/auto.3708 .

Copyright © 2007.

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