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J Biol Chem. 2000 Aug 18;275(33):25130-8.

Reactive oxygen species generated at mitochondrial complex III stabilize hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha during hypoxia: a mechanism of O2 sensing.

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Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


During hypoxia, hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) is required for induction of a variety of genes including erythropoietin and vascular endothelial growth factor. Hypoxia increases mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation at Complex III, which causes accumulation of HIF-1alpha protein responsible for initiating expression of a luciferase reporter construct under the control of a hypoxic response element. This response is lost in cells depleted of mitochondrial DNA (rho(0) cells). Overexpression of catalase abolishes hypoxic response element-luciferase expression during hypoxia. Exogenous H(2)O(2) stabilizes HIF-1alpha protein during normoxia and activates luciferase expression in wild-type and rho(0) cells. Isolated mitochondria increase ROS generation during hypoxia, as does the bacterium Paracoccus denitrificans. These findings reveal that mitochondria-derived ROS are both required and sufficient to initiate HIF-1alpha stabilization during hypoxia.

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