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J Cell Sci. 2004 Jul 1;117(Pt 15):3201-6. Epub 2004 Jun 15.

Redox state regulates HIF-1alpha and its DNA binding and phosphorylation in salmonid cells.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Turku, 20014, Finland.


Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a heterodimeric transcription factor structurally similar to mammalian HIF-1. It consists of HIF-1alpha and HIF-1beta subunits, of which the HIF-1alpha subunit confers the hypoxia sensitivity. HIF-1alpha is rapidly degraded by a proteasome under normal oxygen (21% O2) conditions, mainly as a result of prolyl hydroxylation needed for protein destabilization. Although prolyl hydroxylation at conserved proline residues is a major factor controlling HIF-1alpha stability, the redox state of the cells may, in addition, influence the function of HIF-1alpha like proteins by influencing their stability, DNA binding and phosphorylation. Sensitivity of the protein to oxidation/reduction may be due to cysteine residues at critical positions. The predicted amino acid sequence of rainbow trout HIF-1alpha contains several unique cysteine residues, notably in the DNA-binding area at position 28 and in the transactivation domain of the molecule in the vicinity of the conserved proline residue at position 564 of mammalian HIF-1alpha. In the present studies we have investigated if the redox state influences HIF-1alpha stability, DNA binding and phosphorylation in two established salmonid cell lines RTG-2 and CHSE-214. The results indicate that reducing conditions, achieved using N-propylgallate (nPG) or N-acetylcysteine (NAC), stabilize HIF-1alpha, facilitate its DNA binding, and increase its phosphorylation even under normal oxygen conditions. On the other hand, oxidizing conditions, achieved using L-buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) dampen the hypoxia response. Furthermore, the hypoxia-like effect of cobalt is increased in the presence of the reducing agent. On the basis of these results, we suggest that redox state influences the accessibility of the conserved prolyl residues to oxygen-dependent hydroxylation and the accessibility of the residues involved in the phosphorylation of HIF-1alpha.

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