Hypoxia-mediated up-regulation of Pim-1 contributes to solid tumor formation

Am J Pathol. 2009 Jul;175(1):400-11. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2009.080972. Epub 2009 Jun 15.


Tumor hypoxia directly promotes genomic instability and facilitates cell survival, resulting in tumors with a more aggressive phenotype. The proto-oncogene pim-1 regulates apoptosis and the cell cycle by phosphorylating target proteins. Overexpression of Pim-1 can cause genomic instability and contribute to lymphomagenesis. It is not clear whether Pim-1 is involved in hypoxia-mediated tumor survival in solid tumors. Here, we show that hypoxia can stabilize Pim-1 by preventing its ubiquitin-mediated proteasomal degradation and can cause Pim-1 translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. Importantly, overexpression of Pim-1 increases NIH3T3 cell transformation exclusively under hypoxic conditions, suggesting that Pim-1 expression under hypoxia may be implicated in the transformation process of solid tumors. Also, blocking Pim-1 function by introduction of dominant negative Pim-1 resensitizes pancreatic cancer cells to apoptosis induced by glucose-deprivation under hypoxia. Introduction of short interfering RNAs for Pim-1 also resensitizes cancer cells to glucose deprivation under hypoxic conditions, while forced overexpression of Pim-1 causes solid tumor cells to become resistant to glucose deprivation. Moreover, dominant negative Pim-1 reduces tumorigenicity in pancreatic cancer cells and HeLa xenograft mouse models. Together, our studies indicate that Pim-1 plays a distinct role in solid tumor formation in vivo, implying that Pim-1 may be a novel target for cancer therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Hypoxia / physiology*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-pim-1 / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-pim-1 / metabolism*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Ubiquitination
  • Up-Regulation


  • Pim1 protein, mouse
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-pim-1