The hypoxic and acidic microenvironments in tumors are strongly associated with malignant progression and metastasis, and have thus become a central issue in tumor physiology and cancer treatment. Despite this, the molecular links between acidic pH- and hypoxia-mediated cell invasion/metastasis remain mostly unresolved. One of the mechanisms that tumor cells use for tissue invasion is the generation of invadopodia, which are actin-rich invasive plasma membrane protrusions that degrade the extracellular matrix. Here, we show that hypoxia stimulates the formation of invadopodia as well as the invasive ability of cancer cells. Inhibition or shRNA-based depletion of the Na +/H + exchanger NHE-1, along with intracellular pH monitoring by live-cell imaging, revealed that invadopodia formation is associated with alterations in cellular pH homeostasis, an event that involves activation of the Na +/H + exchange rate by NHE-1. Further characterization indicates that hypoxia triggered the activation of the p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (p90 RSK), which resulted in invadopodia formation and site-specific phosphorylation and activation of NHE-1. This study reveals an unsuspected role of p90RSK in tumor cell invasion and establishes p90RS kinase as a link between hypoxia and the acidic microenvironment of tumors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)