Hypoxia-inducible factors mediate coordinated RhoA-ROCK1 expression and signaling in breast cancer cells.


Overexpression of Rho kinase 1 (ROCK1) and the G protein RhoA is implicated in breast cancer progression, but oncogenic mutations are rare, and the molecular mechanisms that underlie increased ROCK1 and RhoA expression have not been determined. RhoA-bound ROCK1 phosphorylates myosin light chain (MLC), which is required for actin-myosin contractility. RhoA also activates focal adhesion kinase (FAK) signaling. Together, these pathways are critical determinants of the motile and invasive phenotype of cancer cells. We report that hypoxia-inducible factors coordinately activate RhoA and ROCK1 expression and signaling in breast cancer cells, leading to cell and matrix contraction, focal adhesion formation, and motility through phosphorylation of MLC and FAK. Thus, intratumoral hypoxia acts as an oncogenic stimulus by triggering hypoxia-inducible factor → RhoA → ROCK1 → MLC → FAK signaling in breast cancer cells.


One biomarker makes reference to this publication:

  • Chaturvedi P
  • Gilkes DM
  • Hubbi ME
  • Lee SJ
  • Semenza GL
  • Wirtz D
  • Xiang L
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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2014, 111 (3)