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BMB Rep. 2016 May;49(5):245-6.

Regulation of HIF-1α stability by lysine methylation.

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School of Biological Sciences, Creative Research Initiative Center for Chromatin Dynamics, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea.
Department of Biological Sciences, Sookmyung Women's University, Seoul 04310, Korea.


The level and activity of critical regulatory proteins in cells are tightly controlled by several tiers of post-translational modifications. HIF-1α is maintained at low levels under normoxia conditions by the collaboration between PHD proteins and the VHL-containing E3 ubiquitin ligase complex. We recently identified a new physiologically relevant mechanism that regulates HIF-1α stability in the nucleus in response to cellular oxygen levels. This mechanism is based on the collaboration between the SET7/9 methyltransferase and the LSD1 demethylase. SET7/9 adds a methyl group to HIF-1α, which triggers degradation of the protein by the ubiquitin-proteasome system, whereas LSD1 removes the methyl group, leading to stabilization of HIF-1α under hypoxia conditions. In cells from knock-in mice with a mutation preventing HIF-1α methylation (Hif1αKA/KA), HIF-1α levels were increased in both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Hif1αKA/KA knock-in mice displayed increased hematological parameters, such as red blood cell count and hemoglobin concentration. They also displayed pathological phenotypes; retinal and tumor-associated angiogenesis as well as tumor growth were increased in Hif1αKA/KA knock-in mice. Certain human cancer cells exhibit mutations that cause defects in HIF-1α methylation. In summary, this newly identified methylation-based regulation of HIF-1α stability constitutes another layer of regulation that is independent of previously identified mechanisms. [BMB Reports 2016; 49(5): 245-246].

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