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Stabilization of the hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) protein is essential for its role as a regulator of gene expression under low oxygen conditions. Here, employing a novel hydroxylation-specific antibody, we directly show that proline 564 of HIF-1alpha and proline 531 of HIF-2alpha are hydroxylated under normoxia. Importantly, HIF-1alpha Pro-564 and HIF-2alpha Pro-531 hydroxylation is diminished with the treatment of hypoxia, cobalt chloride, desferrioxamine, or dimethyloxalyglycine, regardless of the E3 ubiquitin ligase activity of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene. Furthermore, in VHL-deficient cells, HIF-1alpha Pro-564 and HIF-2alpha Pro-531 had detectable amounts of hydroxylation following transition to hypoxia, indicating that the post-translational modification is not reversible. The introduction of v-Src or RasV12 oncogenes resulted in the stabilization of normoxic HIF-1alpha and the loss of hydroxylated Pro-564, demonstrating that oncogene-induced stabilization of HIF-1alpha is signaled through the inhibition of prolyl hydroxylation. Conversely, a constitutively active Akt oncogene stabilized HIF-1alpha under normoxia independently of prolyl hydroxylation, suggesting an alternative mechanism for HIF-1alpha stabilization. Thus, these results indicate distinct pathways for HIF-1alpha stabilization by different oncogenes. More importantly, these findings link oncogenesis with normoxic HIF-1alpha expression through prolyl hydroxylation.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





40112 - 40117


Amino Acids, Dicarboxylic, Animals, Chelating Agents, Cobalt, Deferoxamine, Fibroblasts, Hydroxylation, Hypoxia, Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit, Immunoblotting, Iron, Luciferases, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Proline, Protein Binding, Transcription Factors, Transfection