Hypoxia-induced SETX links replication stress with the unfolded protein response.
Ramachandran S., Ma TS., Griffin J., Ng N., Foskolou IP., Hwang M-S., Victori P., Cheng W-C., Buffa FM., Leszczynska KB., El-Khamisy SF., Gromak N., Hammond EM.
Tumour hypoxia is associated with poor patient prognosis and therapy resistance. A unique transcriptional response is initiated by hypoxia which includes the rapid activation of numerous transcription factors in a background of reduced global transcription. Here, we show that the biological response to hypoxia includes the accumulation of R-loops and the induction of the RNA/DNA helicase SETX. In the absence of hypoxia-induced SETX, R-loop levels increase, DNA damage accumulates, and DNA replication rates decrease. Therefore, suggesting that, SETX plays a role in protecting cells from DNA damage induced during transcription in hypoxia. Importantly, we propose that the mechanism of SETX induction in hypoxia is reliant on the PERK/ATF4 arm of the unfolded protein response. These data not only highlight the unique cellular response to hypoxia, which includes both a replication stress-dependent DNA damage response and an unfolded protein response but uncover a novel link between these two distinct pathways.