Expression of hypoxia inducible factor–dependent neuropeptide Y receptors Y1 and Y5 sensitizes hypoxic cells to NPY stimulation
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Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is an abundant neurohormone in the central and peripheral nervous system involved in feeding behavior, energy balance, nociception, and anxiety. Several NPY receptor (NPYR) subtypes display elevated expression in many cancers including in breast tumors where it is exploited for imaging and diagnosis. Here, we address how hypoxia, a common feature of the tumor microenvironment, influences the expression of the NPYRs. We show that NPY1R and NPY5R mRNA abundance is induced by hypoxia in a hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-dependent manner in breast cancer cell lines MCF7 and MDA-MB-231. We demonstrate that HIFs bind to several genomic regions upstream of the NPY1R and NPY5R transcription start sites. In addition, the MAPK/ERK pathway is activated more rapidly upon NPY5R stimulation in hypoxic cells compared with normoxic cells. This pathway requires insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) activity in normoxia, but not in hypoxic cells, which display resistance to the radiosensitizer and IGF1R inhibitor AG1024. Furthermore, hypoxic cells proliferate and migrate more when stimulated with NPY relative to normoxic cells and exhibit a more robust response to a Y5-specific agonist. Our data suggest that hypoxia-induced NPYRs render hypoxic cells more sensitive to NPY stimulation. Considering that breast tissue receives a constant supply of NPY, hypoxic breast tumors are the perfect storm for hyperactive NPYR. This study not only highlights a new relationship between the HIFs and NPYR expression and activity but may inform the use of chemotherapeutics targeting NPYRs and hypoxic cells.
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