Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) activate transcription of target genes by recruiting coactivators and chromatin-modifying enzymes. Peptidylarginine deiminase 4 (PADI4) catalyzes the deimination of histone arginine residues to citrulline. Here, we demonstrate that PADI4 expression is induced by hypoxia in a HIF-dependent manner in breast cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma cells. PADI4, in turn, is recruited by HIFs to hypoxia response elements (HREs) and is required for HIF target gene transcription. Hypoxia induces histone citrullination at HREs that is PADI4 and HIF dependent. RNA sequencing revealed that almost all HIF target genes in breast cancer cells are PADI4 dependent. PADI4 is required for breast and liver tumor growth and angiogenesis in mice. PADI4 expression is correlated with HIF-1α expression and vascularization in human breast cancer biopsies. Thus, HIF-dependent recruitment of PADI4 to target genes and local histone citrullination are required for transcriptional responses to hypoxia.
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