A hypoxia-controlled cap-dependent to cap-independent translation switch in breast cancer.
Translational regulation is critical in cancer development and progression. Translation sustains tumor growth and development of a tumor vasculature, a process known as angiogenesis, which is activated by hypoxia. Here we first demonstrate that a majority of large advanced breast cancers overexpress translation regulatory protein 4E-BP1 and initiation factor eIF4G. Using model animal and cell studies, we then show that overexpressed 4E-BP1 and eIF4G orchestrate a hypoxia-activated switch from cap-dependent to cap-independent mRNA translation that promotes increased tumor angiogenesis and growth at the level of selective mRNA translation. Elevated levels of 4E-BP1 trigger hypoxia inhibition of cap-dependent mRNA translation at high-oxygen levels and, with eIF4G, increase selective translation of mRNAs containing internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs) that include key proangiogenic, hypoxia, and survival mRNAs. The switch from cap-dependent to cap-independent mRNA translation facilitates tumor angiogenesis and hypoxia responses in animal models.