Hypoxia inducible factor

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Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF) is a heterodimeric transcription factor which responds to the relative lowering of the oxygen concentration in a cell (hypoxia).[1].

Hypoxia can be defined as lowering of oxygen levels compared to sea levels (~20.9%)

HIFs come in two flavours: HIF-α (HIF-1α, HIF-2α, HIF-3α) and HIF-1β.

Under normal oxygen levels HIF-1α is constantly made and degraded via ubiquitination.

However, when oxygen levels are low (hypoxia) HIF-1α can escape this translational block so that it’s no longer degraded and is still being made in hypoxia.

As a result, HIF-1α is stabilsed and able to dimerise with HIF-1β to activate target gene expression via recruitment of co-factors.[2]


  1. Jennifer E. Ziello, Y. (2017). Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF)-1 Regulatory Pathway and its Potential for Therapeutic Intervention in Malignancy and Ischemia. [online] PubMed Central (PMC). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2140184/ [Accessed 20 Oct. 2017]
  2. Kenneth , N.S, Rocha, S. Regulation of gene expression by hypoxia. Biochemical journal. 2008;141(1): 19-29.

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