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Biochemistry. 2015 Jun 23;54(24):3739-48. doi: 10.1021/bi5012892. Epub 2015 Jun 12.

Hypoxia Inducible Factors Modulate Mitochondrial Oxygen Consumption and Transcriptional Regulation of Nuclear-Encoded Electron Transport Chain Genes.

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†Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ‡Center for Integrative Toxicology, and §Center for Mitochondrial Science and Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1319, United States.


Hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF1) is a stress-responsive nuclear transcription factor that is activated with a decrease in oxygen availability. HIF1 regulates the expression of genes involved in a cell's adaptation to hypoxic stress, including those with mitochondrial specific function. To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the role of HIF1 in mitochondrial homeostasis, we studied the link between hypoxia, HIF1 transactivation, and electron transport chain (ETC) function. We established immortalized mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) for HIF1α wild-type (WT) and null cells and tested whether HIF1α regulates mitochondrial respiration by modulating gene expressions of nuclear-encoded ETC components. High-throughput quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction was performed to screen nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes related to the ETC to identify those whose regulation was HIF1α-dependent. Our data suggest that HIF1α regulates transcription of cytochrome c oxidase (CcO) heart/muscle isoform 7a1 (Cox7a1) under hypoxia, where it is induced 1.5-2.5-fold, whereas Cox4i2 hypoxic induction was HIF1α-independent. We propose that adaptation to hypoxic stress of CcO as the main cellular oxygen consumer is mediated by induction of hypoxia-sensitive tissue-specific isoforms. We suggest that HIF1 plays a central role in maintaining homeostasis in cellular respiration during hypoxic stress via regulation of CcO activity.

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