Transcription association of VHL and SDH mutations link hypoxia and oxidoreductase signals in pheochromocytomas

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Aug;1073:208-20. doi: 10.1196/annals.1353.023.


Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas are neural-crest-derived tumors that arise from mutations in RET, VHL, NF1, and in the genes-encoding succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) subunits B (SDHB), C (SDHC), and D (SDHD). Despite their genetic diversity, these tumors cannot be clearly distinguished on the basis of their primary mutation. We recently identified two major transcriptional programs embedded within familial and sporadic pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas using global expression profiling. This review will summarize the major results of these studies and discuss their implications. The transcription data revealed that: (a) tumors with mutations in VHL, SDHB, and SDHD genes share a transcription signature of hypoxia, angiogenesis, and oxidoreductase imbalance; (b) SDHB protein is suppressed in tumors with mutations in SDHB and SDHD, and also in a subset of tumors with VHL mutations; and (c) HIF1alpha is involved in the SDHB downregulation observed in these tumors. These results are consistent with the existence of a close interconnection between the VHL and SDH pathways mediated predominantly by hypoxia and oxidoreductase signals. It further suggests that low SDHB levels indicative of impaired mitochondrial complex II function may be a shared element of these pheochromocytomas. SDHB may thus constitute a marker for tumors with abnormal hypoxic profile.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Cell Hypoxia*
  • Humans
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Pheochromocytoma / genetics*
  • Pheochromocytoma / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Von Hippel-Lindau Tumor Suppressor Protein / genetics*


  • Oxidoreductases
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase
  • Von Hippel-Lindau Tumor Suppressor Protein
  • VHL protein, human