Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 mediates transcriptional activation of the heme oxygenase-1 gene in response to hypoxia

Patty J. Lee, Bing Hua Jiang, Beek Yoke Chin, Narayan V. Iyer, Jawed Alam, Gregg L. Semenza, Augustine M.K. Choi

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604 Scopus citations


Exposure of rats to hypoxia (7% O 2) markedly increased the level of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) mRNA in several tissues. Accumulation of HO-1 transcripts was also observed after exposure of rat aortic vascular smooth muscle (VSM) cells to 1% O 2, and this induction was dependent on gene transcription. Activation of the mouse HO-1 gene by all agents thus far tested is mediated by two 5'-enhancer sequences, SX2 and AB1, but neither fragment was responsive to hypoxia in VSM cells. Hypoxia-dependent induction of the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter gene was mediated by a 163-bp fragment located approximately 9.5 kilobases upstream of the transcription start site. This fragment contains two potential binding sites for hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1). A role for HIF-1 in HO-1 gene regulation was established by the following observations: 1) HIF-1 specifically hound to an oligonucleotide spanning these sequences, 2) mutation of these sequences abolished HIF-1 binding and hypoxia-dependent gene activation in VSM cells, 3) hypoxia increased HIF-1α and HIF-1β protein levels in VSM cells, and 4) hypoxia-dependent HO-1 mRNA accumulation was not observed in mutant hepatoma cells lacking HIF-1 DNA-binding activity. Taken together, these data demonstrate that hypoxia induces HO-1 expression in animal tissues and cell cultures and implicate HIF-1 in this response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5375-5381
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Feb 28 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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