Susceptibility to vascular neoplasms but no increased susceptibility to renal carcinogenesis in Vhl knockout mice.
The von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene plays a prominent role in the development of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in humans. VHL functions as a ubiquitin E3 ligase, controlling the stability of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) and tumor angiogenesis. Alterations in this tumor suppressor gene are rarely observed in spontaneous or chemically induced RCC that arise in conventional strains of rodents and Vhl knockout mice (Vhl+/-) do not develop spontaneous RCC. We tested whether Vhl knockout mice exhibited increased susceptibility to renal carcinogenesis using the well-characterized renal carcinogen streptozotocin. No differences were observed between wild-type and Vhl+/- animals in the frequency or type of renal lesions induced by 50-200 mg/kg streptozotocin. Carcinogen-induced RCC that developed in Vhl heterozygotes and wild-type mice did not contain mutations in the wild-type Vhl, as determined by direct sequencing of the primary tumors. While Vhl+/- mice exhibited no increase in renal lesions in response to streptozotocin, heterozygous animals did develop vascular proliferative lesions of the liver, uterus, ovary, spleen and heart. These lesions, ranging from angiectasis to hemangiosarcoma, were most prominent in the livers of Vhl+/- mice, where they were found in high incidence and high multiplicity. Wild-type mice developed a low-frequency of liver angiectasis (7-15%) only at the highest doses of carcinogen used (150 and 200 mg/kg, respectively) while Vhl+/- mice exhibited angiectasis, hemangioma and hemangiosarcomas with a frequency ranging from 19 to 46% at 50-200 mg/kg streptozotocin. Untreated Vhl+/- mice had a spontaneous incidence of hepatic vascular lesions of 21%. Furthermore, vascular lesions of the uterus, ovary, spleen and heart were observed only in Vhl+/- mice, with an incidence of (5-28%). Taken together, the data indicate that heterozygosity at the Vhl locus predisposes mice to a vascular phenotype ranging from angiectasis to hemangiosarcoma, consistent with the ability of this tumor suppressor gene to control the stability of HIF and regulate key proteins that participate in angiogenesis.
Kleymenova, E; Everitt, JI; Pluta, L; Portis, M; Gnarra, JR; Walker, CL
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