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Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 2011;76:335-45. doi: 10.1101/sqb.2011.76.010975. Epub 2011 Nov 16.

Cancer and altered metabolism: potential importance of hypoxia-inducible factor and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) deregulation contributes to the Warburg effect. HIF consists of an unstable α subunit and a stable β subunit. In the presence of oxygen, HIFα becomes prolyl hydroxylated by members of the EglN (also called PHD) family, leading to its proteasomal degradation. Under hypoxic conditions, EglN activity is diminished and HIF levels rise. EglN1 is the primary HIF prolyl hydroxylase with EglN2 and EglN3 playing compensatory roles under certain conditions. EglN2 and EglN3 also appear to play HIF-independent roles in regulating cell proliferation and apoptosis, respectively. The EglNs belong to a large family of 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases that includes the TET DNA hydroxymethylases and JmjC-containing histone demethylases. Members of this superfamily can be inhibited by endogenous metabolites, including fumarate and succinate, which accumulate in tumors that have fumarate hydratase (FH) or succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) mutations, respectively, as well as by the 2-hydroxyglutarate detected in isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) mutant tumors. 2-Oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases therefore provide a link between altered metabolism and cancer.

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