Mechanisms linking hypoxia to phosphorylation of insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1 in baboon fetuses with intrauterine growth restriction and in cell culture

Jenica Kakadia, Kyle Biggar, Bhawani Jain, Allan W. Chen, Karen Nygard, Cun Li, Peter W. Nathanielsz, Thomas Jansson, Madhulika B. Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Hypoxia increases fetal hepatic insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) phosphorylation mediated by mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibition. Whether maternal nutrient restriction (MNR) causes fetal hypoxia remains unclear. We used fetal liver from a baboon (Papio sp.) model of intrauterine growth restriction due to MNR (70% global diet of Control) and liver hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cells as a model for human fetal hepatocytes and tested the hypothesis that mTOR-mediated IGFBP-1 hyperphosphorylation in response to hypoxia requires hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and regulated in development and DNA-damage responses-1 (REDD-1) signaling. Western blotting (n = 6) and immunohistochemistry (n = 3) using fetal liver indicated greater expression of HIF-1α, REDD-1 as well as erythropoietin and its receptor, and vascular endothelial growth factor at GD120 (GD185 term) in MNR versus Control. Moreover, treatment of HepG2 cells with hypoxia (1% pO2) (n = 3) induced REDD-1, inhibited mTOR complex-1 (mTORC1) activity and increased IGFBP-1 secretion/phosphorylation (Ser101/Ser119/Ser169). HIF-1α inhibition by echinomycin or small interfering RNA silencing prevented the hypoxia-mediated inhibition of mTORC1 and induction of IGFBP-1 secretion/phosphorylation. dimethyloxaloylglycine (DMOG) induced HIF-1α and also REDD-1 expression, inhibited mTORC1 and increased IGFBP-1 secretion/phosphorylation. Induction of HIF-1α (DMOG) and REDD-1 by Compound 3 inhibited mTORC1, increased IGFBP-1 secretion/ phosphorylation and protein kinase PKCα expression. Together, our data demonstrate that HIF-1α induction, increased REDD-1 expression and mTORC1 inhibition represent the mechanistic link between hypoxia and increased IGFBP-1 secretion/phosphorylation. We propose that maternal undernutrition limits fetal oxygen delivery, as demonstrated by increased fetal liver expression of hypoxia-responsive proteins in baboon MNR. These findings have important implications for our understanding of the pathophysiology of restricted fetal growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere21788
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • fetal growth
  • fetal hypoxia
  • hypoxia-inducible factor 1
  • mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1
  • non-human primate
  • regulated in development and DNA damage responses 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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