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Local hypoxia occurs in most solid tumors and is associated with aggressive disease and therapy resistance. Widespread changes in gene expression play a critical role in the biological response to hypoxia. However, most research has focused on hypoxia-inducible genes as opposed to those that are decreased in hypoxia. We demonstrate that chromatin accessibility is decreased in hypoxia, predominantly at gene promoters and specific pathways are impacted including DNA repair, splicing, and the R-loop interactome. One of the genes with decreased chromatin accessibility in hypoxia was DDX5, encoding the RNA helicase, DDX5, which showed reduced expression in various cancer cell lines in hypoxic conditions, tumor xenografts, and in patient samples with hypoxic tumors. Most interestingly, we found that when DDX5 is rescued in hypoxia, replication stress and R-loop levels accumulate further, demonstrating that hypoxia-mediated repression of DDX5 restricts R-loop accumulation. Together these data support the hypothesis that a critical part of the biological response to hypoxia is the repression of multiple R-loop processing factors; however, as shown for DDX5, their role is specific and distinct.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Oncol

Publication Date





1173 - 1191


ATACseq, DDX5, R-loops, hypoxia, Humans, Chromatin, R-Loop Structures, Cell Line, Hypoxia