Transferrin receptor induction by hypoxia. HIF-1-mediated transcriptional activation and cell-specific post-transcriptional regulation

Lorenza Tacchini, Laura Bianchi, Aldo Bernelli-Zazzera, Gaetano Cairo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

250 Scopus citations

Abstract

The tight relationship between oxygen and iron prompted us to investigate whether the expression of transferrin receptor (TfR), which mediates cellular iron uptake, is regulated by hypoxia. In Hep3B human hepatoma cells incubated in 1% O2 or treated with CoCl2, which mimics hypoxia, we detected a 3-fold increase of TfR mRNA despite a decrease of iron regulatory proteins activity. Increased expression resulted from a 4-fold stimulation of the nuclear transcription rate of the TfR gene by both hypoxia and CoCl2. A role for hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1), which activates transcription by binding to hypoxia-responsive elements in the activation of TfR, stems from the following observations. (a) Hypoxia and CoCl2-dependent expression of luciferase reporter gene in transiently transfected Hep3B cells was mediated by a fragment of the human TfR promoter containing a putative hypoxia-responsive element sequence, (b) mutation of this sequence prevented hypoxic stimulation of luciferase activity, (c) binding to this sequence of HIF-1α, identified by competition experiments and supershift assays, was induced in Hep3B cells by hypoxia and CoCl2. In erythroid K562 cells, the same treatments did not affect iron regulatory proteins activity, thus resulting in a stimulation of TfR gene expression higher than in hepatoma cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24142-24146
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume274
Issue number34
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 20 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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