MDM2 regulates hypoxic hypoxia-inducible factor 1α stability in an E3 ligase, proteasome, and PTEN-phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-AKT-dependent manner

Shweta Joshi, Alok R. Singh, Donald L. Durden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF1) is a heterodimeric transcription factor containing an inducibly expressed HIF1α subunit and a constitutively expressed HIF1β subunit. Under hypoxic conditions, the HIF1α subunit accumulates because of a decrease in the rate of proteolytic degradation, and the resulting HIF1α-HIF1β heterodimers undergo post-translational modifications that promote transactivation. Previous reports suggest that amplified signaling through PI3K enhances HIF1-dependent gene expression; however, its role is controversial, and the mechanism is unclear. Using genetically engineered PTEN-deficient cell lines, we demonstrate that PTEN specifically inhibited the accumulation of HIF1α in response to hypoxia. Furthermore, we report that in glioblastoma cell lines, inhibition of PI3K pathway, using pan as well as isoform-specific PI3K inhibitors SF1126, PF4691502, BEZ-235, GDC0941, and TGX221 blocked the induction of HIF1α protein and its targets vascular endothelial growth factor, HK1, and GLUT1 mRNA in response to hypoxia. Herein, we describe the first evidence that HIF1α can be degraded under hypoxic conditions via the 26 S proteasome and that MDM2 is the E3 ligase that induces the hypoxic degradation of HIF1α. Moreover, the action of MDM2 on HIF1α under hypoxia occurs in the cytoplasm and is controlled by the PTEN-PI3K-AKT signaling axis. These data strongly suggest a new role for PTEN in the regulation of HIF1α and importantly that PI3K-AKT activation is required for the hypoxic stabilization of HIF1α and that hypoxia alone is not sufficient to render HIF1α resistant to proteasomal cleavage and degradation. Moreover, these findings suggest new therapeutic considerations for PI3K and/or AKT inhibitors for cancer therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22785-22797
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 15 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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