Activation of vascular endothelial growth factor gene transcription by hypoxia-inducible factor 1

Jo A. Forsythe, Bing Hua Jiang, Narayan V. Iyer, Faton Agani, Sandra W. Leung, Robert D. Koos, Gregg L. Semenza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Expression of vascular endothelial growth factur (VEGF) is induced in ceils exposed to hypoxia or ischemia. Neovascularization stimulated by VEGF occurs in several important clinical contexts, including myocardial ischemia, retinal disease, and tumor growth. Hypuxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a heterodimeric basic helix-loop-helix protein that activates transcription of the human erythropoietin gene in hypoxic cells. Here we demonstrate the involvement of HIF-1 in the activation of VEGF transcription. VEGF 5'-flanking sequences mediated transcriptional activation of reporter gene expression in hypoxic Hep3B cells. A 47-bp sequence located 985 to 939 bp 5' to the VEGF transcription initiation site mediated hypoxia-inducible reporter gene expression directed by a simian virus 40 promoter element that was otherwise minimally responsive to hypoxia. When reporters containing VEGF sequences, in the context of the native VEGF or heterologous simian virus 40 promoter, were cotransfected with expression vectors encoding HIF-1α and HIF-1β (ARNT [aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translncator]), reporter gene transcription was much greater in both hypoxic and nonhypoxic cells than in cells transfected with the reporter alone. A HIF-1 binding site was demonstrated in the 47-bp hypoxia response element, and a 3-bp substitution eliminated the ability of the element to bind HIF-1 and to activate transcription in response to hypoxia and/or recombinant HIF-1. Cotransfection of cells with an expression vector encoding a dominant negative form of HIF-1α inhibited the activation of reporter transcription in hypoxic cells in a dose-dependent manner. VEGF mRNA was not induced by hypoxia in mutant cells that do not express the HIE- 1β (ARNT) subunit. These findings implicate HIF-1 in the activation of VEGF transcription in hypoxic cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4604-4613
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Volume16
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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