Pharmacological HIF-1 stabilization promotes intestinal epithelial healing through regulation of α-integrin expression and function.

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Journal Article
Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol, 2021, 320, (4), pp. G420-G438
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Intestinal epithelia are critical for maintaining gastrointestinal homeostasis. Epithelial barrier injury, causing inflammation and vascular damage, results in inflammatory hypoxia, and thus, healing occurs in an oxygen-restricted environment. The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1 regulates genes important for cell survival and repair, including the cell adhesion protein β1-integrin. Integrins function as αβ-dimers, and α-integrin-matrix binding is critical for cell migration. We hypothesized that HIF-1 stabilization accelerates epithelial migration through integrin-dependent pathways. We aimed to examine functional and posttranslational activity of α-integrins during HIF-1-mediated intestinal epithelial healing. Wound healing was assessed in T84 monolayers over 24 h with/without prolyl-hydroxylase inhibitor (PHDi) (GB-004), which stabilizes HIF-1. Gene and protein expression were measured by RT-PCR and immunoblot, and α-integrin localization was assessed by immunofluorescence. α-integrin function was assessed by antibody-mediated blockade, and integrin α6 regulation was determined by HIF-1α chromatin immunoprecipitation. Models of mucosal wounding and 2,4,6-trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (TNBS)-induced colitis were used to examine integrin expression and localization in vivo. PHDi treatment accelerated wound closure and migration within 12 h, associated with increased integrin α2 and α6 protein, but not α3. Functional blockade of integrins α2 and α6 inhibited PHDi-mediated accelerated wound closure. HIF-1 bound directly to the integrin α6 promoter. PHDi treatment accelerated mucosal healing, which was associated with increased α6 immunohistochemical staining in wound-associated epithelium and wound-adjacent tissue. PHDi treatment increased α6 protein levels in colonocytes of TNBS mice and induced α6 staining in regenerating crypts and reepithelialized inflammatory lesions. Together, these data demonstrate a role for HIF-1 in regulating both integrin α2 and α6 responses during intestinal epithelial healing.NEW & NOTEWORTHY HIF-1 plays an important role in epithelial restitution, selectively inducing integrins α6 and α2 to promote migration and proliferation, respectively. HIF-stabilizing prolyl-hydroxylase inhibitors accelerate intestinal mucosal healing by inducing epithelial integrin expression.
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