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J Cell Biol. May 27, 2013; 201 (5): 759-76.

The hypoxia factor Hif-1α controls neural crest chemotaxis and epithelial to mesenchymal transition.

Barriga EH , Maxwell PH , Reyes AE , Mayor R .

One of the most important mechanisms that promotes metastasis is the stabilization of Hif-1 (hypoxia-inducible transcription factor 1). We decided to test whether Hif-1α also was required for early embryonic development. We focused our attention on the development of the neural crest, a highly migratory embryonic cell population whose behavior has been likened to cancer metastasis. Inhibition of Hif-1α by antisense morpholinos in Xenopus laevis or zebrafish embryos led to complete inhibition of neural crest migration. We show that Hif-1α controls the expression of Twist, which in turn represses E-cadherin during epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) of neural crest cells. Thus, Hif-1α allows cells to initiate migration by promoting the release of cell-cell adhesions. Additionally, Hif-1α controls chemotaxis toward the chemokine SDF-1 by regulating expression of its receptor Cxcr4. Our results point to Hif-1α as a novel and key regulator that integrates EMT and chemotaxis during migration of neural crest cells.

PubMed ID: 23712262
PMC ID: PMC3664719
Article link: J Cell Biol.
Grant support: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research CouncilMedical Research CouncilWellcome Trust

Genes referenced: cad cald1 cdh1 ctrl cxcl12 cxcr4 snai1 snai2 sst twist1
Antibodies referenced: Cdh1 Ab1
Morpholinos referenced: hif1a MO1

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