Menard JA, Christianson HC, Kucharzewska P, Bourseau-Guilmain E, Svensson KJ, Lindqvist E, Indira Chandran V, Kjellén L, Welinder C, Bengzon J, Johansson MC, Belting M
Cancer Res. 76 (16) 4828-4840 [2016-08-15; online 2016-05-19]
Hypoxia and acidosis are inherent stress factors of the tumor microenvironment and have been linked to increased tumor aggressiveness and treatment resistance. Molecules involved in the adaptive mechanisms that drive stress-induced disease progression constitute interesting candidates of therapeutic intervention. Here, we provide evidence of a novel role of heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG) in the adaptive response of tumor cells to hypoxia and acidosis through increased internalization of lipoproteins, resulting in a lipid-storing phenotype and enhanced tumor-forming capacity. Patient glioblastoma tumors and cells under hypoxic and acidic stress acquired a lipid droplet (LD)-loaded phenotype, and showed an increased recruitment of all major lipoproteins, HDL, LDL, and VLDL. Stress-induced LD accumulation was associated with increased spheroid-forming capacity during reoxygenation in vitro and lung metastatic potential in vivo On a mechanistic level, we found no apparent effect of hypoxia on HSPGs, whereas lipoprotein receptors (VLDLR and SR-B1) were transiently upregulated by hypoxia. Importantly, however, using pharmacologic and genetic approaches, we show that stress-mediated lipoprotein uptake is highly dependent on intact HSPG expression. The functional relevance of HSPG in the context of tumor cell stress was evidenced by HSPG-dependent lipoprotein cell signaling activation through the ERK/MAPK pathway and by reversal of the LD-loaded phenotype by targeting of HSPGs. We conclude that HSPGs may have an important role in the adaptive response to major stress factors of the tumor microenvironment, with functional consequences on tumor cell signaling and metastatic potential. Cancer Res; 76(16); 4828-40. ©2016 AACR.