Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) can control a transcriptional factor forkhead box P3 (Foxp3) protein expression in T lymphocyte differentiation through proteasome-mediated degradation. In this study, we unveil a reverse regulatory mechanism contributing to bladder cancer progression; Foxp3 expression attenuates HIF-1α degradation. We first demonstrated that Foxp3 expression positively correlates with the metastatic potential in T24 cells and can increase the expression of HIF-1α-target genes, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and glucose transporter (GLUT). Foxp3 protein can bind with HIF-1α, particularly under hypoxia. In vivo ubiquination assay demonstrated that Foxp3 can decrease HIF-1α degradation in a dose-dependent manner. Knocking-down of Foxp3 expression blocks in vivo tumor growth in mice and prolongs mice's survival, which is associated with von Willebrand factor expression. Thirty-three of 145 (22.8 %) bladder tumors exhibit Foxp3 expression. Foxp3 expression is an independent predictor for disease progression in superficial bladder cancer patients (p = 0.032), associated with less number of intratumoral CD8+ lymphocyte. The metaanalysis from 2 published datasets showed Foxp3 expression is positively associated with GLUT-4,-9, and VEGF-A, B-, D expression. This reverse post-translational regulation of HIF-1α protein by Foxp3 provides a new potential target for developing new therapeutic strategy for bladder cancer.
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