Adaptations to change in oxygen availability are crucial for survival of multi-cellular organisms and are also implicated in several disease states. Such adaptations rely upon gene expression regulated by the heterodimeric transcription factors HIFs (hypoxia-inducible factors). Enzymes that link changes in oxygen tensions with the stability and transcriptional activity of HIFs are considered as oxygen sensors. These enzymes are oxygen-, iron- and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases that hydroxylate key proline and asparagine residues in HIFα subunits. The constitutive inhibitory action of these enzymes on HIFs is relieved by hypoxia and by agents that displace iron or 2-oxoglutarate. Two of the enzymes, HPH (HIF prolyl hydroxylase)-1 and HPH-2, are known to be inducible by hypoxia in a HIF-dependent manner. This suggests the existence of a novel feedback loop for adjusting hypoxia-regulated gene expression. We have recently shown that HIF-1α stability, HIF-1 nuclear translocation and HIF-mediated gene expression in human glioma cell lines can be stimulated by pyruvate independently of hypoxia. In the present study we show that the endogenous 2-oxoacid oxaloacetate can also activate HIF-mediated gene expression. Pyruvate and oxaloacetate treatment of cells also up-regulates HPH-1 and HPH-2, but not HPH-3 or the HIF asparaginyl hydroxylase FIH-1 (factor inhibiting HIF). Regulation of HIF-1 and the expression of HPH homologue genes can thus be influenced by specific glycolytic and tricarboxylic acid cycle metabolites. These findings may underlie important interactions between oxygen homoeostasis, glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid cycle and gluconeogenesis.
- Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)
- Oxygen sensor
- Prolyl hydroxylase