Coordinate regulation of the oxygen-dependent degradation domains of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α

Denise A. Chan, Patrick D. Sutphin, Shing Erh Yen, Amato J. Giaccia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

162 Scopus citations


Oxygen-dependent proteolysis is the primary means of regulating the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) family of transcription factors. The alpha-subunit of HIF factor 1 (HIF-1) contains two highly conserved oxygen-dependent degradation domains (402 ODD and 564 ODD), each of which includes a proline that is hydroxylated in the presence of oxygen, allowing the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) E3 ubiquitin ligase to interact and target HIF-1α to the proteasome for degradation. Mutation of either proline is sufficient to partially stabilize HIF-1α under conditions of normoxia, but the specific contributions of each hydroxylation event to the regulation of HIF-1α are unknown. Here we show that the two ODDs of HIF-1α have independent yet interactive roles in the regulation of HIF-1α protein turnover, with the relative involvement of each ODD depending on the levels of oxygen. Using hydroxylation-specific antibodies, we found that under conditions of normoxia proline 564 is hydroxylated prior to proline 402, and mutation of proline 564 results in a significant reduction in the hydroxylation of proline 402. Mutation of proline 402, however, has little effect on the hydroxylation of proline 564. To determine whether the more rapid hydroxylation of the proline 564 under conditions of normoxia is due to a preference for the particular sequence surrounding proline 564 or for that site within the protein, we exchanged the degradation domains within the full-length HIF-1α protein. In these domain-swapping experiments, prolyl hydroxylase domain 1 (PHD1) and PHD2 preferentially hydroxylated the proline located in the site of the original 564 ODD, while PHD3 preferred the proline 564 sequence, regardless of its location. At limiting oxygen tensions, we found that proline 402 exhibits an oxygen-dependent decrease in hydroxylation at higher oxygen tensions relative to proline 564 hydroxylation. These results indicate that hydroxylation of proline 402 is highly responsive to physiologic changes in oxygen and, therefore, plays a more important role in HIF-1α regulation under conditions of hypoxia than under conditions of normoxia. Together, these findings demonstrate that each hydroxylated proline of HIF-1α has a distinct activity in controlling HIF-1α stability in response to different levels of oxygenation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6415-6426
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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