Recent reports have identified a phenomenon by which hypoxia shifts glutamine metabolism from oxidation to reductive carboxylation. We now identify the mechanism by which HIF-1 activation results in a dramatic reduction in the activity of the key mitochondrial enzyme complex α ketoglutarate dehydrogenase (αKGDH). HIF-1 activation promotes SIAH2 targeted ubiquitination and proteolysis of the 48 kDa splice variant of the E1 subunit of the αKGDH complex (OGDH2). Knockdown of SIAH2 or mutation of the ubiquitinated lysine residue on OGDH2 (336KA) reverses the hypoxic drop in αKGDH activity, stimulates glutamine oxidation, and reduces glutamine-dependent lipid synthesis. 336KA OGDH2-expressing cells require exogenous lipids or citrate for growth in hypoxia in vitro and fail to grow as model tumors in immunodeficient mice. Reversal of hypoxic mitochondrial function may provide a target for the development of next-generation anticancer agents targeting tumor metabolism.
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