Astrocyte-derived CCL20 reinforces HIF-1-mediated hypoxic responses in glioblastoma by stimulating the CCR6-NF-κB signaling pathway


During tumor development, stromal cells are co-opted to the tumor milieu and provide favorable conditions for the tumor. Hypoxia stimulates cancer cells to acquire a more malignant phenotype via activation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1). Given that cancer cells and astrocytes in glioblastomas coexist in a hypoxic microenvironment, we examined whether astrocytes affect the adaptation of glioblastoma cells to hypoxia. Immunoblotting, reporter assays, quantitative RT-PCR, and chromatin immunoprecipitation were performed to evaluate HIF-1 signaling in glioblastoma cells. Astrocyte-derived chemokine C–C motif ligand 20 (CCL20) was identified using cytokine arrays, and its role in glioblastoma development was evaluated in orthotopic xenografts. Astrocytes augmented HIF-1α expression in glioblastoma cells under hypoxia. The expression of HIF-1 downstream genes, cancer colony formation, and Matrigel invasion of glioblastoma cells were stimulated by conditioned medium from astrocytes pre-exposed to hypoxia. CCL20 was secreted in a hypoxia-dependent manner from astrocytes and busted the hypoxic induction of HIF-1α in glioblastoma cells. Mechanistically, the CCL20/CCR6 signaling pathway upregulates HIF-1α by stimulating nuclear factor kappa B-driven transactivation of the HIF1A gene. Compared with the control tumors, CCR6-deficient glioblastoma xenografts grew more slowly, with poor vascularization, and expressed lower levels of HIF-1α and its downstream proteins. Furthermore, CCR6 expression was correlated with HIF-1α expression in GEO and TCGA datasets from human glioblastoma tissues. These results suggest that glioblastoma cells adapt well to hypoxic stress by virtue of CCL20 derived from neighboring astrocytes.

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This work was supported by a grant of the National Research Foundation of Korea (2017048432) and a grant of Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (HI14C3418). Park JW was supported by the Education and Research Encouragement Fund of Seoul National University Hospital.

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Correspondence to Jong-Wan Park.

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