How HIF-1α Handles Stress

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Science  15 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6125, pp. 1285-1286
DOI: 10.1126/science.1236966

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Metazoans cope with hypoxia—oxygen deficiency in the tissues—by eliciting elaborate cellular responses to balance oxygen supply and demand. At the molecular level, adaptation relies primarily on the hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α), a transcription factor, and its binding partner ARNT (also called HIF-1β). This complex activates numerous target genes to limit oxygen consumption and push the cell into survival mode (1). The scope of HIF-1α action is expanding, though, as it seems to have nontranscriptional activities that reduce DNA replication and slow down cell proliferation when oxygen becomes scarce (see the figure).