TitleChronic hypoxia is associated with transcriptomic reprogramming and increased genomic instability in cancer cells.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsKhouzam RAbou, Sharda M, Rao SPrasad, Kyerewah-Kersi SMaame, Zeinelabdin NAhmed, Mahmood AShah, Nawafleh H, Khan MSamar, Venkatesh GHassan, Chouaib S
JournalFront Cell Dev Biol
Date Published2023

Hypoxia afflicts the microenvironment of solid tumors fueling malignancy. We investigated the impact of long hypoxia exposure on transcriptional remodeling, tumor mutational burden (TMB), and genomic instability of cancer cells that were grouped based on their inherent sensitivity or resistance to hypoxia. A hypoxia score was used as a metric to distinguish between the most hypoxia-sensitive (hypoxia high (HH)), and most resistant (hypoxia low (HL)) cancer cells. By applying whole exome sequencing and microarray analysis, we showed that the HH group was indeed more sensitive to hypoxia, having significantly higher TMB ( = 0.03) and copy number losses ( = 0.03), as well as a trend of higher transcriptional response. Globally cells adapted by decreasing expression of genes involved in metabolism, proliferation, and protein maturation, and increasing alternative splicing. They accumulated mutations, especially frameshift insertions, and harbored increased copy number alterations, indicating increased genomic instability. Cells showing highest TMB simultaneously experienced a significant downregulation of DNA replication and repair and chromosomal maintenance pathways. A sixteen-gene common response to chronic hypoxia was put forth, including genes regulating angiogenesis and proliferation. Our findings show that chronic hypoxia enables survival of tumor cells by metabolic reprogramming, modulating proliferation, and increasing genomic instability. They additionally highlight key adaptive pathways that can potentially be targeted to prevent cancer cells residing in chronically hypoxic tumor areas from thriving.

Alternate JournalFront Cell Dev Biol
PubMed ID36968212
PubMed Central IDPMC10033758