Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α activates insulin-induced gene 2 (Insig-2) transcription for degradation of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl (HMG)-CoA reductase in the liver

Seonghwan Hwang, Andrew D. Nguyen, Youngah Jo, Luke J. Engelking, James Brugarolas, Russell A. DeBose-Boyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Cholesterol synthesis is a highly oxygen-consuming process. As such, oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) limits cholesterol synthesis through incompletely understood mechanisms mediated by the oxygen-sensitive transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α). We show here that HIF-1α links pathways for oxygen sensing and feedback control of cholesterol synthesis in human fibroblasts by directly activating transcription of the INSIG-2 gene. Insig-2 is one of two endoplasmic reticulum membrane proteins that inhibit cholesterol synthesis by mediating sterol-induced ubiquitination and subsequent endoplasmic reticulum-Associated degradation of the rate-limiting enzyme in the pathway, HMG-CoA reductase (HMGCR). Consistent with the results in cultured cells, hepatic levels of Insig-2 mRNA were enhanced in mouse models of hypoxia. Moreover, pharmacologic stabilization of HIF-1α in the liver stimulatedHMGCRdegradation via a reaction that requires the protein's prior ubiquitination and the presence of the Insig-2 protein. In summary, our results show that HIF-1α activates INSIG-2 transcription, leading to accumulation of Insig-2 protein, which binds to HMGCR and triggers its accelerated ubiquitination and degradation. These results indicate that HIF-mediated induction of Insig-2 and degradation of HMGCR are physiologically relevant events that guard against wasteful oxygen consumption and inappropriate cell growth during hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9382-9393
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 2 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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