Adaptive changes to oxygen availability are critical for cell survival and tissue homeostasis. Prolonged oxygen deprivation due to reduced blood flow to cardiac or peripheral tissues can lead to myocardial infarction and peripheral vascular disease, respectively. Mammalian cells respond to hypoxia by modulating oxygen-sensing transducers that stabilize the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α), which transactivates genes governing angiogenesis and metabolic pathways. Oxygen-dependent changes in HIF-1α levels are regulated by proline hydroxylation and proteasomal degradation. Here we provide evidence for what we believe is a novel mechanism regulating HIF-1α levels in isolated human ECs during hypoxia. Hypoxia differentially increased microRNA-424 (miR-424) levels in ECs. miR-424 targeted cullin 2 (CUL2), a scaffolding protein critical to the assembly of the ubiquitin ligase system, thereby stabilizing HIF-α isoforms. Hypoxia-induced miR-424 was regulated by PU.1-dependent transactivation. PU.1 levels were increased in hypoxic endothelium by RUNX-1 and C/EBPα. Furthermore, miR-424 promoted angiogenesis in vitro and in mice, which was blocked by a specific morpholino. The rodent homolog of human miR-424, mu-miR-322, was significantly upregulated in parallel with HIF-1α in experimental models of ischemia. These results suggest that miR-322/424 plays an important physiological role in post-ischemic vascular remodeling and angiogenesis.
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