Oxygen-dependent regulation of NDRG1 in human glioblastoma cells in vitro and in vivo

Oncol Rep. 2009 Jan;21(1):237-46.


NDRG1 is a member of the N-myc downregulated gene (NDRG) family. Its induction occurs via diverse physiological and pathological conditions (hypoxia, cellular differentiation, heavy metal, N-myc, neoplasia) which modulate NDRG1 transcription, mRNA stability and translation. Hypoxia, among other factors, induces NDRG1 expression and plays an important role in its regulation of expression. To date, the complete detailed function of this protein in humans remains unknown. Hypoxia represents a common feature of solid tumors. In our study, differences in NDRG1 expression between different WHO grades of astrocytic tumors were comparatively examined in vivo in human low-grade astrocytoma (WHO grade 2) and glioblastoma (WHO grade 4) at both the protein and mRNA level by Western blot analysis and semi-quantitative RT-PCR, respectively. Furthermore, the same proteins were determined in vitro in U373, U251 and GaMG human glioblastoma cells using the same methods. HIF-1alpha protein and mRNA regulation under hypoxia was also determined in vitro in U251, U373 and GaMG cells. This regulation was shown at the same levels in vivo in human low-grade astrocytoma (WHO grade 2) and glioblastoma which showed a higher NDRG1 overexpression level in glioblastoma than in low-grade astrocytoma. siRNA- and iodoacetate (IAA)-mediated downregulation of NDRG1 mRNA and protein expression in vitro in human glioblastoma cell lines showed a nearly complete inhibition of NDRG1 expression when compared to the results obtained due to the inhibitory role of glycolysis inhibitor IAA. Hypoxia responsive elements (HREs) bound by nuclear HIF-1alpha in human glioblastoma cells in vitro under different oxygenation conditions and the clearly enhanced binding of nuclear extracts from glioblastoma cell samples exposed to extreme hypoxic conditions confirmed the HIF-1 Western blotting results. Due to its clear regulatory behavior under hypoxic condition in human tumor cells, NDRG1 represents an additional diagnostic marker for brain tumor detection, due to the role of hypoxia in regulating this gene, and it can represent a potential target for tumor treatment in human glioblastoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Northern
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Hypoxia / physiology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Expression
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / biosynthesis
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transfection


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • N-myc downstream-regulated gene 1 protein
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Oxygen