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Free Radic Biol Med. 2006 Jun 15;40(12):2147-54. Epub 2006 Mar 9.

Oxygen-sensitive reset of hypoxia-inducible factor transactivation response: prolyl hydroxylases tune the biological normoxic set point.

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Laboratory of Molecular Medicine, Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute, Department of Surgery, The Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, 43210, USA.


Cellular O(2) sensing enables physiological adjustments to variations in tissue pO(2). Under basal conditions, cells are adjusted to an O(2) environment biologically read as normoxia. Any sharp departure from that state of normoxia triggers O(2)-sensitive biological responses. The stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) signifies a robust biological readout of hypoxia. In the presence of sufficient O(2), HIF is hydroxylated and degraded. HIF prolyl hydroxylation is catalyzed by prolyl hydroxylase isoenzymes PHD1, 2, and 3. Using HT22 neurons stably transfected with a HIF reporter construct, we tested a novel hypothesis postulating that biological cells are capable of resetting their normoxic set point by O(2)-sensitive changes in PHD expression. Results of this study show that the pO(2) of the mouse brain cortex was 35 mm Hg or 5% O(2). Exposure of HT22, adjusted to growing in 20% O(2), to 5% O(2) resulted in HIF-driven transcription. However, cells adjusted to growing in 5% O(2) did not report hypoxia. Cells adjusted to growing in 30% O(2) reported hypoxia when acutely exposed to room air culture conditions. When grown under high O(2) conditions, cells reset their normoxic set point upward by down-regulating the expression of PHD1-3. When grown under low O(2) conditions, cells reset their normoxic set point downward by inducing the expression of PHD1-3. Exposure of mice in vivo to a hypoxic 10% O(2) environment lowered blood as well as brain pO(2). Such hypoxic exposure induced PHD1-3. Exposure of mice to a hyperoxic 50% O(2) ambience repressed the expression of PHD1-3, indicating that O(2)-sensitive regulation of PHD expression is effective in the brain in vivo. siRNA dependent knockdown of PHD expression revealed that O(2)-sensitive regulation of PHD may contribute to tuning the normoxic set point in biological cells.

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