M.D., Ph.D. National Taiwan University
Hypoxia is a major driving force of cancer invasion and metastasis. Here we show that death domain-associated protein (Daxx) acts to negatively regulate hypoxia-induced cell dissemination and invasion by inhibiting the HIF-1α/HDAC1/Slug pathway. Daxx directly binds to the DNA-binding domain of Slug, impeding histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) recruitment and antagonizing Slug E-box binding. This, in turn, stimulates E-cadherin and occludin expression and suppresses Slug-mediated epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cell invasiveness. Under hypoxic conditions, stabilized hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α downregulates Daxx expression and promotes cancer invasion, whereas re-expression of Daxx represses hypoxia-induced cancer invasion. Daxx also suppresses Slug-mediated lung cancer metastasis in an orthotopic lung metastasis mouse model. Using clinical tumour samples, we confirmed that the HIF-1α/Daxx/Slug pathway is an outcome predictor. Our results support that Daxx can act as a repressor in controlling HIF-1α/HDAC1/Slug-mediated cancer cell invasion and is a potential therapeutic target for inhibition of cancer metastasis.