Background and purpose: The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is overexpressed, amplified or mutated in various human epithelial tumors and hypoxia is a common feature of solid tumors. Both EGFR and hypoxia are associated with therapy resistance and poor treatment outcome. To survive hypoxia, cells adapt by activation of hypoxia responsive pathways and expression of hypoxia-induced plasma membrane proteins. We observed that GABA(A) receptor associated protein like1 (GABARAPL1) and plasma membrane expression of EGFR were increased during hypoxia. Here we explored the role. of the GABARAPL1 in EGFR membrane expression during hypoxia. Material and methods: Quantitative qPCR, immunoblot analysis, flow cytometry and cytochemistry were used to assess this interplay. Results: GABARAPL1 mRNA and protein levels are increased during hypoxia in vitro and correlate with tumor hypoxia in a panel of primary HNSCC xenografts. High GABARAPL1 mRNA is associated with poor outcome of HNSCC patients. During hypoxia, EGFR membrane expression is increased and GABARAPL1 and EGFR colocalize at the plasma membrane. GABARAPL1 knockdown inhibits EGFR membrane expression during hypoxia. Conclusion: GABARAPL1 is required for increased membrane expression of EGFR during hypoxia, suggesting a role for GABARAPL1 in the trafficking of these membrane proteins.
- Receptor trafficking