SHARP1 suppresses breast cancer metastasis by promoting degradation of hypoxia-inducible factors

Nature. 2012 Jul 19;487(7407):380-4. doi: 10.1038/nature11207.


The molecular determinants of malignant cell behaviours in breast cancer remain only partially understood. Here we show that SHARP1 (also known as BHLHE41 or DEC2) is a crucial regulator of the invasive and metastatic phenotype in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer. SHARP1 is regulated by the p63 metastasis suppressor and inhibits TNBC aggressiveness through inhibition of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) and HIF-2α (HIFs). SHARP1 opposes HIF-dependent TNBC cell migration in vitro, and invasive or metastatic behaviours in vivo. SHARP1 is required, and sufficient, to limit expression of HIF-target genes. In primary TNBC, endogenous SHARP1 levels are inversely correlated with those of HIF targets. Mechanistically, SHARP1 binds to HIFs and promotes HIF proteasomal degradation by serving as the HIF-presenting factor to the proteasome. This process is independent of pVHL (von Hippel-Lindau tumour suppressor), hypoxia and the ubiquitination machinery. SHARP1 therefore determines the intrinsic instability of HIF proteins to act in parallel to, and cooperate with, oxygen levels. This work sheds light on the mechanisms and pathways by which TNBC acquires invasiveness and metastatic propensity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cyclin G2 / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Metastasis*


  • BHLHE41 protein, human
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • CCNG2 protein, human
  • Cyclin G2