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J Biol Chem. 2001 Mar 16;276(11):7919-26. Epub 2000 Dec 8.

Hypoxia inhibits G1/S transition through regulation of p27 expression.

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Department of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Mammalian cellular responses to hypoxia include adaptive metabolic changes and a G1 cell cycle arrest. Although transcriptional regulation of metabolic genes by the hypoxia-induced transcription factor (HIF-1) has been established, the mechanism for the hypoxia-induced G1 arrest is not known. By using genetically defined primary wild-type murine embryo fibroblasts and those nullizygous for regulators of the G1/S checkpoint, we observed that the retinoblastoma protein is essential for the G1/S hypoxia-induced checkpoint, whereas p53 and p21 are not required. In addition, we found that the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27 is induced by hypoxia, thereby inhibiting CDK2 activity and forestalling S phase entry through retinoblastoma protein hypophosphorylation. Reduction or absence of p27 abrogated the hypoxia-induced G1 checkpoint, suggesting that it is a key regulator of G1/S transition in hypoxic cells. Intriguingly, hypoxic induction of p27 appears to be transcriptional and through an HIF-1-independent region of its proximal promoter. This demonstration of the molecular mechanism of hypoxia-induced G1/S regulation provides insight into a fundamental response of mammalian cells to low oxygen tension.

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