Hypoxia induces transcriptional and translational downregulation of the type I interferon (IFN) pathway in multiple cancer cell types.
Miar A., Arnaiz E., Bridges E., Beedie S., Cribbs AP., Downes DJ., Beagrie RA., Rehwinkel J., Harris AL.
Hypoxia is a common phenomenon in solid tumors and is strongly linked to hallmarks of cancer. Recent evidence has shown that hypoxia promotes local immune suppression. Type I IFN supports cytotoxic T lymphocytes by stimulating the maturation of dendritic cells (DC) and enhancing their capacity to process and present antigens. However, little is known about the relationship between hypoxia and the type I interferon (IFN) pathway, which comprises the sensing of double-stranded RNA and DNA (dsRNA/dsDNA) followed by IFNα/β secretion and transcriptional activation of IFN-stimulated genes (ISG). In this study, we determined the effects of hypoxia on the type I IFN pathway in breast cancer and the mechanisms involved. In cancer cell lines and xenograft models, mRNA and protein expression of the type I IFN pathway were downregulated under hypoxic conditions. This pathway was suppressed at each level of signaling, from the dsRNA sensors RIG-I and MDA5, the adaptor MAVS, transcription factors IRF3, IRF7, and STAT1, and several ISG including RIG-I, IRF7, STAT1, and ADAR-p150. Importantly, IFN secretion was reduced under hypoxic conditions. HIF1α- and HIF2α-mediated regulation of gene expression did not explain most of the effects. However, ATAC-seq data revealed in hypoxia that peaks with STAT1 and IRF3 motifs had decreased accessibility. Collectively, these results indicate that hypoxia leads to an overall downregulation of the type I IFN pathway due to repressed transcription and lower chromatin accessibility in a HIF1/2α-independent manner, which could contribute to immunosuppression in hypoxic tumors.