Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is a highly prevalent malignancy with a high mortality rate. Sporadic and germline mutations and/or loss of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene have been linked to varying levels of risk for RCC. VHL disease patients have one wild type VHL allele and one inactivated/mutated VHL allele. Tumor formation occurs when the normal copy of VHL is lost or inactivated. Given that VHL 2B missense mutation confers a high risk for RCC, the proposed project aims to identify key molecular changes that occur in renal cells following VHL inactivation that can provide insight into RCC tumor formation. It is well understood that functional pVHL protein under normal oxygen conditions targets hypoxia inducible factors (HIF) for proteosomal degradation, while under low oxygen conditions or mutated VHL allele, VHL fails to regulate HIF-1 subunits. HIF-1 subunits dimerize with HIF-2 subunits, translocate to the nucleus and are responsible for transcriptional activation of genes. Some HIF gene targets have been identified;most notably those important for angiogenesis and glucose metabolism, which are normally upregulated in RCC and other malignant tumors. The focus of this project is to identify a HIF gene target profile by comparing levels of gene expression when HIF-11 and/or HIF-21 are differentially regulated by VHL status using transgenic mouse models. To better understand the genetic changes associated with RCC tumor formation, primary epithelial kidney cells from newborn conditional Vhl null and Vhl 2B transgenic mouse lines will be used and will be harvested and minimally manipulated in an ex vivo system. After which, these cells will be reintroduced to their native environment, renal capsules of immunocompromised mice, to study their tumorigenic potential. The cellular composition of the generated pooled cell lines wilI be identified to investigate which cell type is most at risk for developing tumorigenesis. Whether renal carcinoma is due to VHL disease or sporadic mutations, this study bears great weight to the public, as it is imperative that we understand what changes occur in kidney cells to become tumorigenic. The proposed research will identify the most at-risk cell population and analyze the molecular changes in this at-risk cell population that result in tumor growth as well as identify a HIF gene target profile for these changes in order to have greater insight into RCC tumorigenesis.

Public Health Relevance

Renal carcinoma is the 6th and 7th most common cancer in men and women, respectively. The familial von Hippel-Lindau disease confers a high risk for renal carcinoma, while 75% of sporadic tumors are associated with inactive VHL. This project will use a unique kidney cell system to understand what early molecular changes occur following VHL loss or mutation resulting in tumor formation by analyzing the most at-risk cell type. The proposed research is of importance to public health given that we plan to identify the spectrum of molecular changes dependent on the type of VHL mutation for initiation of renal cell carcinoma.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IMST-D (29))
Program Officer
Bini, Alessandra M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
Chapel Hill
United States
Zip Code
Arreola, Alexandra; Payne, Laura Beth; Julian, Morgan H et al. (2018) Von Hippel-Lindau mutations disrupt vascular patterning and maturation via Notch. JCI Insight 3:
Block, Keith I; Gyllenhaal, Charlotte; Lowe, Leroy et al. (2015) Designing a broad-spectrum integrative approach for cancer prevention and treatment. Semin Cancer Biol 35 Suppl:S276-S304
Wang, Zongwei; Dabrosin, Charlotta; Yin, Xin et al. (2015) Broad targeting of angiogenesis for cancer prevention and therapy. Semin Cancer Biol 35 Suppl:S224-S243
Arreola, Alexandra; Cowey, C Lance; Coloff, Jonathan L et al. (2014) HIF1? and HIF2? exert distinct nutrient preferences in renal cells. PLoS One 9:e98705