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EMBO J. 2006 Mar 8;25(5):1114-25. Epub 2006 Feb 9.

Gene expression during acute and prolonged hypoxia is regulated by distinct mechanisms of translational control.

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Department of Radiation Oncology (Maastro), GROW Research Institute, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Hypoxia has recently been shown to activate the endoplasmic reticulum kinase PERK, leading to phosphorylation of eIF2alpha and inhibition of mRNA translation initiation. Using a quantitative assay, we show that this inhibition exhibits a biphasic response mediated through two distinct pathways. The first occurs rapidly, reaching a maximum at 1-2 h and is due to phosphorylation of eIF2alpha. Continued hypoxic exposure activates a second, eIF2alpha-independent pathway that maintains repression of translation. This phase is characterized by disruption of eIF4F and sequestration of eIF4E by its inhibitor 4E-BP1 and transporter 4E-T. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis of polysomal RNA indicates that the translation efficiency of individual genes varies widely during hypoxia. Furthermore, the translation efficiency of individual genes is dynamic, changing dramatically during hypoxic exposure due to the initial phosphorylation and subsequent dephosphorylation of eIF2alpha. Together, our data indicate that acute and prolonged hypoxia regulates mRNA translation through distinct mechanisms, each with important contributions to hypoxic gene expression.

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