Paediatrics Publications


Hypoxia Increases IGFBP-1 Phosphorylation Mediated by mTOR Inhibition

Document Type


Publication Date



Molecular Endocrinology





First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier



In fetal growth restriction (FGR), fetal growth is limited by reduced nutrient and oxygen supply. Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) is a key regulator of fetal growth and IGF binding protein -1(IGFBP-1) is the principal regulator of fetal IGF-I bioavailability. Phosphorylation enhances IGFBP-1’s affinity for IGF-I. Hypoxia induces IGFBP-1 hyperphosphorylation, markedly decreasing IGF-I bioavailability. We recently reported that fetal liver IGFBP-1 hyperphosphorylation is associated with inhibition of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) in a nonhuman primate model of FGR. Here, we test the hypothesis that IGFBP-1 hyperphosphorylation in response to hypoxia is mediated by mTOR inhibition. We inhibited mTOR either by rapamycin or small interfering RNA (siRNA) targeting raptor (mTOR complex [mTORC]1) and/or rictor (mTORC2) in HepG2 cells cultured under hypoxia (1% O2) or basal (20% O2) conditions. Conversely, we activated mTORC1 or mTORC1+mTORC2 by silencing endogenous mTOR inhibitors (tuberous sclerosis complex 2/DEP-domain-containing and mTOR-interacting protein). Immunoblot analysis demonstrated that both hypoxia and inhibition of mTORC1 and/or mTORC2 induced similar degrees of IGFBP-1 phosphorylation at Ser101/119/169 and reduced IGF-I receptor autophosphorylation. Activation of mTORC1+mTORC2 or mTORC1 alone prevented IGFBP-1 hyperphosphorylation in response to hypoxia. Multiple reaction monitoring-mass spectrometry showed that rapamycin and/or hypoxia increased phosphorylation also at Ser98 and at a novel site Ser174. In silico structural analysis indicated that Ser174 was in close proximity to the IGF-binding site. Together, we demonstrate that signaling through the mTORC1 or mTORC2 pathway is sufficient to induce IGFBP-1 hyperphosphorylation in response to hypoxia. This study provides novel understanding of the cellular mechanism that controls fetal IGFBP-1 phosphorylation in hypoxia, and we propose that mTOR inhibition constitutes a mechanistic link between hypoxia, reduced IGF-I bioavailability and FGR.

This document is currently not available here.