Structural basis for PAS domain heterodimerization in the basic helix-loop-helix-PAS transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor

Paul J A Erbel, Paul B. Card, Ozgur Karakuzu, Richard K. Bruick, Kevin H. Gardner

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163 Scopus citations


Biological responses to oxygen availability play important roles in development, physiological homeostasis, and many disease processes. In mammalian cells, this adaptation is mediated in part by a conserved pathway centered on the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF). HIF is a heterodimeric protein complex composed of two members of the basic helix-loop-helix Per-ARNT-Sim (PAS) (ARNT, aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator) domain family of transcriptional activators, HIFα and ARNT. Although this complex involves protein-protein interactions mediated by basic helix-loop-helix and PAS domains in both proteins, the role played by the PAS domains is poorly understood. To address this issue, we have studied the structure and interactions of the C-terminal PAS domain of human HIF-2α by NMR spectroscopy. We demonstrate that HIF-2α PAS-B binds the analogous ARNT domain in vitro, showing that residues involved in this interaction are located on the solvent-exposed side of the HIF-2α central β-sheet. Mutating residues at this surface not only disrupts the interaction between isolated PAS domains in vitro but also interferes with the ability of full-length HIF to respond to hypoxia in living cells. Extending our findings to other PAS domains, we find that this β-sheet interface is widely used for both intra- and intermolecular interactions, suggesting a basis of specificity and regulation of many types of PAS-containing signaling proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15504-15509
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - Dec 23 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General

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