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Hypoxia induces a phase transition within a kinase signaling network in cancer cells

Wei, Wei and Shi, Qihui and Remacle, Francoise and Qin, Lidong and Shackelford, David B. and Shin, Young Shik and Mischel, Paul S. and Levine, R. D. and Heath, James R. (2013) Hypoxia induces a phase transition within a kinase signaling network in cancer cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110 (15). E1352-E1360. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC3625329. doi:10.1073/pnas.1303060110.

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Hypoxia is a near-universal feature of cancer, promoting glycolysis, cellular proliferation, and angiogenesis. The molecular mechanisms of hypoxic signaling have been intensively studied, but the impact of changes in oxygen partial pressure (pO2) on the state of signaling networks is less clear. In a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cancer cell model, we examined the response of signaling networks to targeted pathway inhibition between 21% and 1% pO_2. We used a microchip technology that facilitates quantification of a panel of functional proteins from statistical numbers of single cells. We find that near 1.5% pO_2, the signaling network associated with mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 (mTORC1)—a critical component of hypoxic signaling and a compelling cancer drug target—is deregulated in a manner such that it will be unresponsive to mTOR kinase inhibitors near 1.5% pO2, but will respond at higher or lower pO_2 values. These predictions were validated through experiments on bulk GBM cell line cultures and on neurosphere cultures of a human-origin GBM xenograft tumor. We attempt to understand this behavior through the use of a quantitative version of Le Chatelier’s principle, as well as through a steady-state kinetic model of protein interactions, both of which indicate that hypoxia can influence mTORC1 signaling as a switch. The Le Chatelier approach also indicates that this switch may be thought of as a type of phase transition. Our analysis indicates that certain biologically complex cell behaviors may be understood using fundamental, thermodynamics-motivated principles.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle CentralArticle
Wei, Wei0000-0002-1018-7708
Heath, James R.0000-0001-5356-4385
Additional Information:© 2013 National Academy of Sciences. Contributed by R. D. Levine, February 15, 2013 (sent for review December 17, 2012). Published online before print March 25, 2013. This work was funded by National Cancer Institute Grant 5U54 CA119347 (to J.R.H.), National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Grant R01 NS73831 (to P.S.M.), the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation, the Jean Perkins Foundation, and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. F.R. is a Director of Research with Fonds National de Recherche Scientifique, Belgium. Author contributions: W.W., Q.S., and J.R.H. designed research; F.R. developed and applied the theory; R.D.L. developed the theory; W.W., Q.S., L.Q., and D.B.S. performed research; Y.S.S. and R.D.L. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; W.W., F.R., R.D.L., and J.R.H. analyzed data; and W.W., Q.S., P.S.M., R.D.L., and J.R.H. wrote the paper.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NIH5U54 CA119347
NIHR01 NS73831
Ben and Catherine Ivy FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Jean Perkins FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Grand Duchy of LuxembourgUNSPECIFIED
National Cancer InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:cancer biology; microfluidics; single-cell proteomics; brain cancer
Issue or Number:15
PubMed Central ID:PMC3625329
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130517-131724956
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:38563
Deposited On:20 May 2013 18:08
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:38

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