Indexed on: 05 Aug '06Published on: 05 Aug '06Published in: Molecular pharmacology
Adaptation to low oxygen tension (hypoxia) in cells and tissues leads to the transcriptional induction of a series of genes that participate in angiogenesis, iron metabolism, glucose metabolism, and cell proliferation/survival. The primary factor mediating this response is the hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), an oxygen-sensitive transcriptional activator. HIF-1 consists of a constitutively expressed subunit HIF-1beta and an oxygen-regulated subunit HIF-1alpha (or its paralogs HIF-2alpha and HIF-3alpha). The stability and activity of the alpha subunit of HIF are regulated by its post-translational modifications such as hydroxylation, ubiquitination, acetylation, and phosphorylation. In normoxia, hydroxylation of two proline residues and acetylation of a lysine residue at the oxygen-dependent degradation domain (ODDD) of HIF-1alpha trigger its association with pVHL E3 ligase complex, leading to HIF-1alpha degradation via ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. In hypoxia, the HIF-1alpha subunit becomes stable and interacts with coactivators such as cAMP response element-binding protein binding protein/p300 and regulates the expression of target genes. Overexpression of HIF-1 has been found in various cancers, and targeting HIF-1 could represent a novel approach to cancer therapy.