A positive feedback loop promotes HIF-1α stability through miR-210-mediated suppression of RUNX3 in paraquat-induced EMT

Research paper by Yong Zhu, Jinfeng Wang, Xiaoxiao Meng, Hui Xie, Jiuting Tan, Xinkun Guo, Peng Han, Ruilan Wang

Indexed on: 13 Jul '17Published on: 12 Jul '17Published in: Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine


Irreversible pulmonary fibrosis induced by paraquat (PQ) poisoning is the major cause of death in patients with PQ poisoning. The epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is postulated to be one of the main mechanisms of pulmonary fibrosis. Here, we investigated the role of miR-210 in PQ-induced EMT and its relationship with hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α). Western blotting, immunofluorescence, immunoprecipitation and other methods were used in this study. We found that miR-210 expression was significantly increased after PQ poisoning, and it may be regulated by HIF-1α. Overexpression of miR-210 further increased the HIF-1α protein level and promoted EMT. Moreover, miR-210 knock-down reduced the HIF-1α protein level and decreased the degree of EMT. Runt-related transcription factor-3 (RUNX3), a direct target of miR-210, was inhibited by miR-210 in response to PQ poisoning. RUNX3 increased the hydroxylation ability of prolyl hydroxylase domain-containing protein 2 (PHD2), a key enzyme that promotes HIF-1α degradation. PHD2 immunoprecipitated with RUNX3 and its level changed similarly to that of RUNX3. The expression of the HIF-1α protein was significantly reduced when RUNX3 was overexpressed. HIF-1α protein levels were markedly increased when RUNX3 was silenced. Based on these results, a positive feedback loop may exist between miR-210 and HIF-1α. The mechanism may function through miR-210-mediated repression of RUNX3, which further decreases the hydroxylation activity of PHD2, enhances the stability of HIF-1α, and promotes PQ-induced EMT, aggravating the progression of pulmonary fibrosis. This study further elucidates the mechanism of PQ-induced pulmonary fibrosis and may provide a new perspective for the future development of therapies.