Feedback of hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) transcriptional activity via redox factor-1 (Ref-1) induction by reactive oxygen species (ROS).


Kobayashi Y(1), Oguro A(1)(2), Imaoka S(1).
Author information:
(1)Department of Biomedical Chemistry, School of Science and Technology, Kwansei Gakuin University, Sanda, Japan.
(2)Program of Biomedical Science, Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan.


Hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) is important for adaptation to hypoxia. Hypoxia is a common feature of cancer and inflammation, by which HIF-1alpha increases. However, prolonged hypoxia decreases HIF-1alpha, and the underlying mechanisms currently remain unclear. Cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) increases in cancer and inflammation. In the present study, we demonstrated that prolonged hypoxia increased ROS, which induced prolyl hydroxylase domain-containing protein 2 (PHD2) and factor inhibiting HIF-1 (FIH-1), major regulators of HIF-1alpha. Cellular stress response (CSR) increased HIF-1alpha transcriptional activity by scavenging endogenous ROS. PHD2 and FIH-1 were induced by external hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) but were suppressed by ROS-scavenging catalase. We investigated the mechanisms by which PHD2 and FIH-1 are regulated by ROS. The knockdown of HIF-1alpha decreased PHD2 and FIH-1 mRNA levels, suggesting their regulation by HIF-1alpha. We then focused on redox factor-1 (Ref-1), which is a regulator of HIF-1alpha transcriptional activity. The knockdown of Ref-1 decreased PHD2 and FIH-1. Ref-1 was regulated by ROS. Prolonged hypoxia and the addition of H2O2 induced the expression of Ref-1. Furthermore, the knockdown of p65, a component of kappa-light-chain enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB), efficiently inhibited the induction of Ref-1 by ROS. Collectively, the present results showed that prolonged hypoxia or increased ROS levels induced Ref-1, leading to the activation of HIF-1alpha transcriptional activity, while the activation of HIF-1alpha via Ref-1 induced PHD2 and FIH-1, causing the feedback of HIF-1alpha. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate the regulation of HIF-1alpha via Ref-1 by ROS.