Efficient translation of mouse hypoxia-inducible factor-1α under normoxic and hypoxic conditions

Agnes Görlach, Gieri Camenisch, Ivica Kvietikova, Lorenz Vogt, Roland H. Wenger, Max Gassmann

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The heterodimeric hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), consisting of the subunits HIF-1α and HIF-1β/ARNT, is a master transcriptional regulator of oxygen homeostasis. Under hypoxic conditions, HIF-1α levels very rapidly increase, mostly due to protein stabilization. However, translational regulation of HIF-1α has not been directly analyzed so far. Mouse HIF-1α exists as two mRNA isoforms (termed mHIF-1αI.1 and mHIF-1αI.2) containing structurally different 5'-termini which might modulate translation initiation. Whereas the in vitro translation efficiency of these two mRNA isoforms was about equal, the mHIF-1αI.2 5'-untranslated region (5'-UTR) conferred significantly higher in vivo luciferase reporter gene activity than the mHIF-1αI.1 5'-UTR. Similar corresponding luciferase mRNA levels indicate translational rather than transcriptional alterations. Reporter gene expression was not affected upon exposure of transiently transfected cells to hypoxia (1% oxygen). Direct assessment of translational regulation by polysomal profile analysis of HeLaS3 cells showed that HIF-1α (and to a lower extent ARNT) mRNA was found mainly in the translationally active polyribosomal fractions under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions. In contrast, the association of mRNAs for β-actin and ribosomal protein L28 with the polyribosomal fractions was substantially reduced under hypoxic conditions, suggesting decreased overall protein synthesis. Thus, efficient translation of mouse HIF-1α in a situation where the general translation efficiency is reduced represents a prerequisite for the very rapid accumulation of HIF-1α protein upon exposure to hypoxia. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-134
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Structure and Expression
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 7 Sep 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Erythropoietin
  • Oxygen
  • PAS protein
  • Translational regulation
  • Untranslated region


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