Hypoxia-inducible factor 1-dependent expression of adenosine receptor 2B promotes breast cancer stem cell enrichment

Jie Lan, Haiquan Lu, Debangshu Samanta, Shaima Salman, You Lu, Gregg L. Semenza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs), which are characterized by a capacity for unlimited self-renewal and for generation of the bulk cancer cell population, play a critical role in cancer relapse and metastasis. Hypoxia is a common feature of the cancer microenvironment that stimulates the specification and maintenance of BCSCs. In this study, we found that hypoxia increased expression of adenosine receptor 2B (A2BR) in human breast cancer cells through the transcriptional activity of hypoxia-inducible factor 1. The binding of adenosine to A2BR promoted BCSC enrichment by activating protein kinase C-δ, which phosphorylated and activated the transcription factor STAT3, leading to increased expression of interleukin 6 and NANOG, two key mediators of the BCSC phenotype. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of A2BR expression or activity decreased hypoxia-or adenosine-induced BCSC enrichment in vitro, and dramatically impaired tumor initiation and lung metastasis after implantation of MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells into the mammary fat pad of immunodeficient mice. These data provide evidence that targeting A2BR might be an effective strategy to eradicate BCSCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E9640-E9648
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 9 2018


  • Caffeine
  • HIF-1
  • Oxygen
  • Tumor-initiating cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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