Hypoxia stimulates carcinoma invasion by stabilizing microtubules and promoting the Rab11 trafficking of the alpha6beta4 integrin

Cancer Res. 2005 Apr 1;65(7):2761-9. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-4122.


Hypoxia plays a key role in tumor cell survival, invasion, and metastasis. Here we show that hypoxia increases tumor cell invasion by the modulation of Rab11, an important molecule for vesicular trafficking, especially membrane protein recycling and translocation of proteins from trans-Golgi network to plasma membrane. Dominant-negative Rab11 dramatically decreased hypoxia-induced invasion of MDA-MB-231 breast carcinoma cells without affecting cell apoptosis. Hypoxia-induced Rab11 trafficking is regulated by microtubule stability, as evidenced by the findings that hypoxia increases Glu tubulin and that colchicine blocks Rab11 trafficking and invasion. Inhibition of GSK-3beta activity by hypoxia seems to be central to microtubule stabilization and invasion. In fact, expression of a dominant-negative GSK-3beta was sufficient to stimulate invasion in normoxia. One target of Rab11-mediated trafficking that contributes to invasion is the integrin alpha6beta4. Hypoxia induced a significant increase in alpha6beta4 surface expression but it had no effect on the surface expression of alpha3beta1. This increase is dependent on Rab11 and stable microtubules. In summary, we identify vesicle trafficking as a novel target of hypoxic stimulation that is important for tumor invasion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / genetics
  • Carcinoma / metabolism
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Cell Hypoxia / physiology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / genetics
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Humans
  • Integrin alpha6beta4 / biosynthesis
  • Integrin alpha6beta4 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Transfection
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Integrin alpha6beta4
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • GSK3B protein, human
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Gsk3b protein, mouse
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3
  • rab11 protein
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins