The discovery of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) has led to an increasing understanding of the mechanism of tumor hypoxia in the past two decades. As a key transcriptional regulator, HIF-1 plays a central role in the adaptation of tumor cells to hypoxia by activating the transcription of targeting genes, which regulate several biological processes including angiogenesis, cell proliferation, survival, glucose metabolism and migration. The inhibitors of HIF-1 in cancer have provided us a new clue for the targeting cancer therapy. This review will introduce the general knowledge of the biology characteristic of HIF-1 and mechanism of O(2)-dependent regulation. Moreover, a number of chemical inhibitors plus protein and nucleic acid inhibitors are included and classified mainly based on their different mechanism of inhibiting action. We also prefer to discuss the advantages of protein and nucleic acid inhibitors compared with chemical inhibitors.
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