Evidence for a role of p38 kinase in hypoxia-inducible factor 1-independent induction of vascular endothelial growth factor expression by sodium arsenite

Monique C A Duyndam, Saskia T M Hulscher, Elsken van der Wall, Herbert M Pinedo, Epie Boven
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2003 February 28, 278 (9): 6885-95
Recently we have demonstrated that sodium arsenite induces the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1alpha (HIF-1alpha) protein and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in OVCAR-3 human ovarian cancer cells. We now show that arsenic trioxide, an experimental anticancer drug, exerts the same effects. The involvement of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways in the effects of sodium arsenite was investigated. By using kinase inhibitors in OVCAR-3 cells, both effects of sodium arsenite were found to be independent of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and p44/p42 MAPKS but were attenuated by inhibition of p38 MAPK. A role for p38 in the regulation of HIF-1alpha and VEGF expression was supported further by analysis of activation kinetics. Experiments in mouse fibroblast cell lines, lacking expression of c-Jun N-terminal kinases 1 and 2, suggested that these kinases are not required for induction of HIF-1alpha protein and VEGF mRNA. Unexpectedly, sodium arsenite did not activate a HIF-1-dependent reporter gene in OVCAR-3 cells, indicating that functional HIF-1 was not induced. In agreement with this hypothesis, up-regulation of VEGF mRNA was not reduced in HIF-1alpha(-/-) mouse fibroblast cell lines. Altogether, these data suggest that not HIF-1, but rather p38, mediates induction of VEGF mRNA expression by sodium arsenite.

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