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Chitin synthesis inhibitors promote liver cancer cell metastasis via interfering with hypoxia-inducible factor 1α

Ning, Xia, Wang, Yue, Yan, Wei, Li, Guangke, Sang, Nan
Chemosphere 2018 v.206 pp. 231-237
bioassays, cadherins, cell movement, diflubenzuron, dose response, enzyme activity, extracellular matrix, fibronectins, gelatinase A, hormone receptors, human cell lines, humans, hypoxia-inducible factor 1, insecticides, liver neoplasms, luciferase, metastasis, neoplasm cells, phenotype, reporter genes, risk, triflumuron
Chitin synthesis inhibitors (CSIs), as alternatives to conventional insecticides, have been in worldwide demand in recent years. However, little attention has been paid to the potential ecological safety and health risks of CSIs, especially their abilities to interfere with nonsexual hormone receptors such as hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α). In this work, we conducted a systematic study regarding the influence of CSIs on HIF-1α-related liver cancer cell metastasis. The dual-luciferase reporter gene assay revealed that two of fourteen CSIs exhibited dose-response HIF-1α agonistic activities at noncytotoxic concentrations with relative luciferase activity (RLA) values of 25.6% for diflubenzuron (DFB) and 20.9% for triflumuron (TFM). Following this result, in vitro bioassays demonstrated that both DFB and TFM stimulated HepG2 cell migration and invasion. This action was associated with the varied expression levels of genes involved in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) activation and extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation, such as the upregulation of fibronectin (FN1) and matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and the suppression of E-cadherin (E-cad) and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-2 (TIMP-2). Moreover, changes in these EMT and ECM phenotype markers were dramatically blocked by a HIF-1α inhibitor (KC7F2), which further verified the involvement of HIF-1α in CSI-induced HepG2 cell metastasis. For the first time, our findings reveal that CSIs play crucial roles in promoting the metastasis of human liver cancer cells and that HIF-1α is potentially responsible for these changes.