Reciprocal activation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-2a and the zinc-ZIP8-MTF1 axis amplifies catabolic signaling in osteoarthritis

M. Lee, etc
Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 2016


Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-2a and the zinc-ZIP8-MTF1 axis in chondrocytes serve as catabolic regulators of osteoarthritic cartilage destruction by regulating the expression of catabolic factor genes. We explored possible crosstalk between these signaling pathways and its biological significance in osteoarthritis (OA).


Microarray analysis, various mRNA and protein assays were conducted using primary cultured mouse articular chondrocytes and experimental OA cartilage to reveal molecular mechanisms underlying the crosstalk between HIF-2a and the zinc-ZIP8-MTF1 axis. Experimental OA in mice was induced by intra-articular (IA) injection of adenovirus expressing HIF-2a (Ad-Epas1), ZIP8 (Ad-Zip8), or MTF1 (Ad-Mtf1) in wild-type mice or mice with cartilage-specific conditional knockout of HIF-2a (Epas1fl/fl;Col2a1-Cre), ZIP8 (Zip8fl/fl;Col2a1-Cre), or MTF1 (Mtf1fl/fl;Col2a1-Cre).


HIF-2a activated the zinc-ZIP8-MTF1 axis in chondrocytes by upregulating the Zn2+ transporter ZIP8, thereby increasing Zn2+ influx and activating the downstream transcription factor MTF1. The zinc-ZIP8-MTF1 axis, in turn, acted as a novel transcriptional regulator of HIF-2a. HIF-2a-induced activation of the zinc-ZIP8-MTF1 axis amplified HIF-2a regulation of OA cartilage destruction by synergistically promoting expression of matrix-degrading enzymes. Thus, HIF-2a-induced activation of the zinc-ZIP8-MTF1 axis, together with zinc-ZIP8-MTF1 regulation of HIF-2a, acted collectively to synergistically promote expression of matrix-degrading enzymes and OA cartilage destruction.


Our findings identify a reciprocal activation mechanism involving HIF-2a and the zinc-ZIP8-MTF1 axis during OA pathogenesis that amplifies catabolic signaling and cartilage destruction.

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Osteoarthritis and Cartilage
Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology