The close interaction between hypoxia‑related proteins and metastasis in pancarcinomas
Many primary-tumor subregions exhibit low levels of molecular oxygen and restricted access to nutrients due to poor vascularization in the tissue, phenomenon known as hypoxia. Hypoxic tumors are able to regulate the expression of certain genes and signaling molecules in the microenvironment that shift it towards a more aggressive phenotype. The transcriptional landscape of the tumor favors malignant transformation of neighboring cells and their migration to distant sites. Herein, we focused on identifying key proteins that participate in the signaling crossroads between hypoxic environment and metastasis progression that remain poorly defned. To shed light on these mechanisms, we performed an integrated multi-omics analysis encompassing genomic/transcriptomic alterations of hypoxia-related genes and Bufa hypoxia scores across 17 pancarcinomas taken from the PanCancer Atlas project from The Cancer Genome Atlas consortium, protein–protein interactome network, shortest paths from hypoxia-related proteins to metastatic and angiogenic phenotypes, and drugs involved in current clinical trials to treat the metastatic disease. As results, we identifed 30 hypoxiarelated proteins highly involved in metastasis and angiogenesis. This set of proteins, validated with the MSK-MET Project, could represent key targets for developing therapies. The upregulation of mRNA was the most prevalent alteration in all cancer types. The highest frequencies of genomic/ transcriptomic alterations and hypoxia score belonged to tumor stage 4 and positive metastatic status in all pancarcinomas. The most signifcantly associated signaling pathways were HIF-1, PI3KAkt, thyroid hormone, ErbB, FoxO, mTOR, insulin, MAPK, Ras, AMPK, and VEGF. The interactome network revealed high-confdence interactions among hypoxic and metastatic proteins. The analysis of shortest paths revealed several ways to spread metastasis and angiogenesis from hypoxic proteins. Lastly, we identifed 23 drugs enrolled in clinical trials focused on metastatic disease treatment. Six of them were involved in advanced-stage clinical trials: afibercept, bevacizumab, cetuximab, erlotinib, ipatasertib, and panitumumab.