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PLoS Biol. 2004 Oct;2(10):e289. Epub 2004 Sep 7.

Genetic analysis of pathways regulated by the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1The Henry Wellcome Building of Genomic Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Abstract

The von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor functions as a ubiquitin ligase that mediates proteolytic inactivation of hydroxylated alpha subunits of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF). Although studies of VHL-defective renal carcinoma cells suggest the existence of other VHL tumor suppressor pathways, dysregulation of the HIF transcriptional cascade has extensive effects that make it difficult to distinguish whether, and to what extent, observed abnormalities in these cells represent effects on pathways that are distinct from HIF. Here, we report on a genetic analysis of HIF-dependent and -independent effects of VHL inactivation by studying gene expression patterns in Caenorhabditis elegans. We show tight conservation of the HIF-1/VHL-1/EGL-9 hydroxylase pathway. However, persisting differential gene expression in hif-1 versus hif-1; vhl-1 double mutant worms clearly distinguished HIF-1-independent effects of VHL-1 inactivation. Genomic clustering, predicted functional similarities, and a common pattern of dysregulation in both vhl-1 worms and a set of mutants (dpy-18, let-268, gon-1, mig-17, and unc-6), with different defects in extracellular matrix formation, suggest that dysregulation of these genes reflects a discrete HIF-1-independent function of VHL-1 that is connected with extracellular matrix function.

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