Hypoxia and HIF1α signaling direct tissue-specific gene responses regulating tumor progression, invasion, and metastasis. By integrating HIF1α knockdown and hypoxia-induced gene expression changes, this study identifies a melanocyte-specific, HIF1α-dependent/hypoxia-responsive gene expression signature. Integration of these gene expression changes with HIF1α ChIP-Seq analysis identifies 81 HIF1α direct target genes in melanocytes. The expression levels for 10 of the HIF1α direct targets - GAPDH, PKM, PPAT, DARS, DTWD1, SEH1L, ZNF292, RLF, AGTRAP, and GPC6 - are significantly correlated with reduced time of disease-free status in melanoma by logistic regression (P-value = 0.0013) and ROC curve analysis (AUC = 0.826, P-value < 0.0001). This HIF1α-regulated profile defines a melanocyte-specific response under hypoxia, and demonstrates the role of HIF1α as an invasive cell state gatekeeper in regulating cellular metabolism, chromatin and transcriptional regulation, vascularization, and invasion.
Keywords: HIF1α; hypoxia; melanocyte; melanoma; metastasis.
Published 2017. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.