Do VHL and HIF-1 mirror p53 and Mdm-2? Degradation-transactivation loops of oncoproteins and tumor suppressors

Oncogene. 2001 Jan 18;20(3):395-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1204055.


Recently it has been shown that the VHL tumor suppressor targets the hypoxia-inducible transcription factor (HIF-1) for ubiquitin-dependent degradation by the proteasome. Past mysteries of the p53 tumor suppressor help to solve the present puzzles of the VHL tumor suppressor. Thus, Mdm-2 targets the p53 tumor suppressor for ubiquitin-dependent degradation by the proteasome, but, in addition, the p53 transcription factor induces Mdm-2, thus, establishing a feedback loop. Hypoxia or DNA damage by abrogating binding of HIF-1 with VHL and p53 with Mdm-2, respectively, leads to stabilization and accumulation transcriptionally active HIF-1 and p53. More detailed analysis depicts the VHL/HIF-1 pair as the p53/mdm-2 pair that is turned upside down, suggesting that VHL may be a HIF-1-inducible gene of the feedback loop. The extended model proposes that an oncoprotein and a tumor suppressor due to transactivation coupled with feedback protein degradation might form functional pairs (Rb/E7, E2F/Rb, E2F/Mdm-2, catenin/APC, p27, cyclin D1, Rb/gankyrin), thus, predicting missing links.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Ligases*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases*
  • Von Hippel-Lindau Tumor Suppressor Protein


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • MDM2 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-mdm2
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Von Hippel-Lindau Tumor Suppressor Protein
  • Ligases
  • VHL protein, human