Intrinsically lower AKT, mammalian target of rapamycin, and hypoxia-inducible factor activity correlates with increased sensitivity to 2-deoxy-D-glucose under hypoxia in lung cancer cell lines

Mol Cancer Ther. 2008 Jun;7(6):1506-13. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-07-2334.


Down-regulation by small interfering RNA or absence of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1alpha) has been shown to lead to increased sensitivity to glycolytic inhibitors in hypoxic tumor cells. In surveying a number of tumor types for differences in intrinsic levels of HIF under hypoxia, we find that the reduction of the upstream pathways of HIF, AKT, and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) correlates with increased toxic effects of 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) in lung cancer cell lines when treated under hypoxia. Because HIF-1alpha translation is regulated by mTOR, we examined the effects of blocking mTOR under hypoxia with an analogue of rapamycin (CCI-779) in those cell lines that showed increased mTOR and AKT activity and found that HIF-1alpha down-regulation coincided with increased 2-DG killing. CCI-779, however, was ineffective in increasing 2-DG toxicity in cell lines that did not express HIF. These results support the hypothesis that although mTOR inhibition leads to the blockage of numerous downstream targets, CCI-779 increases the toxicity of 2-DG in hypoxic cells through down-regulation of HIF-1alpha. Overall, our findings show that CCI-779 hypersensitizes hypoxic tumor cells to 2-DG and suggests that the intrinsic expression of AKT, mTOR, and HIF in lung cancer, as well as other tumor types, may be important in dictating the decision on how best to use 2-DG alone or in combination with CCI-799 to kill hypoxic tumor cells clinically.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Hypoxia / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Deoxyglucose / pharmacology*
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / genetics
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Sirolimus / analogs & derivatives
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases


  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • temsirolimus
  • Deoxyglucose
  • Protein Kinases
  • MTOR protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Sirolimus