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As a result of deprivation of oxygen (hypoxia) and nutrients, the growth and viability of cells is reduced. Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1alpha helps to restore oxygen homeostasis by inducing glycolysis, erythropoiesis and angiogenesis. Here we show that hypoxia and hypoglycaemia reduce proliferation and increase apoptosis in wild-type (HIF-1alpha+/+) embryonic stem (ES) cells, but not in ES cells with inactivated HIF-1alpha genes (HIF-1alpha-/-); however, a deficiency of HIF-1alpha does not affect apoptosis induced by cytokines. We find that hypoxia/hypoglycaemia-regulated genes involved in controlling the cell cycle are either HIF-1alpha-dependent (those encoding the proteins p53, p21, Bcl-2) or HIF-1alpha-independent (p27, GADD153), suggesting that there are at least two different adaptive responses to being deprived of oxygen and nutrients. Loss of HIF-1alpha reduces hypoxia-induced expression of vascular endothelial growth factor, prevents formation of large vessels in ES-derived tumours, and impairs vascular function, resulting in hypoxic microenvironments within the tumour mass. However, growth of HIF-1alpha tumours was not retarded but was accelerated, owing to decreased hypoxia-induced apoptosis and increased stress-induced proliferation. As hypoxic stress contributes to many (patho)biological disorders, this new role for HIF-1alpha in hypoxic control of cell growth and death may be of general pathophysiological importance.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/28867

Type

Journal article

Journal

Nature

Publication Date

30/07/1998

Volume

394

Pages

485 - 490

Keywords

Animals, Apoptosis, CHO Cells, Cell Division, Cell Hypoxia, Cell Line, Cricetinae, DNA-Binding Proteins, Endothelial Growth Factors, Gene Targeting, Glucose, Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit, Lymphokines, Mice, Mice, Nude, Neoplasms, Experimental, Neovascularization, Pathologic, Nuclear Proteins, Oxygen, Regional Blood Flow, Stem Cells, Transcription Factors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors