Background/Aims: Despite significant advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of osteosarcoma, the overall survival has remained relatively unchanged for over two decades. Hypoxic conditions have been demonstrated in solid tumors and are associated with increased cell proliferation and angiogenesis. L-arginine metabolism by arginase produces L-ornithine, the precursor for polyamine and proline synthesis required for cellular proliferation. We hypothesized that hypoxia would increase cellular proliferation via arginase induction in human osteosarcoma cell lines. Methods: We utilized a variety of approaches to examine the role of arginase II in hypoxic (1% O 2 , 5% CO 2 ) cellular proliferation. Results: Arginase II mRNA and protein levels were significantly increased in osteosarcoma cells exposed to hypoxia for 48 hours. There were twice as many viable cells following 48 hours of hypoxia than following 48 hours of normoxia (21% O 2 , 5% CO 2 ). The addition of difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), a putative arginase inhibitor, prevented hypoxia-induced proliferation. Transfection of small interfering RNAs (siRNA) targeting arginase II resulted in knockdown of arginase II protein levels and prevented hypoxia-induced cellular proliferation. Conclusions: These data support our hypothesis that hypoxia increases proliferation of osteosarcoma cells in an arginase II-dependent manner. We speculate that arginase II may represent a therapeutic target in osteosarcoma.
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