HIPK2-a therapeutical target to be (re)activated for tumor suppression: role in p53 activation and HIF-1α inhibition

Cell Cycle. 2010 Apr 1;9(7):1270-5. doi: 10.4161/cc.9.7.11125.


Oncosuppressor p53 is often inactivated by either mutations or deregulation of regulatory proteins. These include the homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 2 (HIPK2) that, by phosphorylating p53 at Ser46 modulates p53 response to DNA damage by inducing pro-apoptotic transcription. There is compelling evidence that HIPK2 is also involved in the response to hypoxia by acting as co-suppressor of hypoxia inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α), a major factor in cancer progression that activates the transcription of genes involved in angiogenesis, glucose metabolism and invasion. Hence conditions that induce HIPK2 deregulation would end up in a multifactorial response leading to tumor chemoresistance by affecting p53 activity on one hand and to angiogenesis and cell proliferation by affecting HIF-1 activity on the other hand. For these reasons, HIPK2 protein is a promising target for anti-cancer therapies. HIPK2 can be inhibited by hypoxia. In this respect, we have recently shown that hypoxia-driven HIPK2 downregulation is not irreversible. We found that, zinc supplementation reactivates the hypoxia-inhibited HIPK2, leading to repression of the HIF-1 pathway and restoration of p53Ser46 apoptotic activity. Here, we discuss about these findings and the potential relevance of zinc supplementation to chemotherapy in cancer treatment. The results will be also discussed in light of recent findings showing that cancer treatment with antiangiogenic agents may result in hypoxia and selection of cancer cells with increased tumor aggressiveness and metastasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Hypoxia / genetics
  • Cell Hypoxia / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / genetics
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • HIPK2 protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases