XIAP upregulates expression of HIF target genes by targeting HIF1α for Lys63-linked polyubiquitination

Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Sep 19;45(16):9336-9347. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx549.


The cellular response to hypoxia is characterised by a switch in the transcriptional program, mediated predominantly by the hypoxia inducible factor family of transcription factors (HIF). Regulation of HIF1 is primarily controlled by post-translational modification of the HIF1α subunit, which can alter its stability and/or activity. This study identifies an unanticipated role for the X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) protein as a regulator of Lys63-linked polyubiquitination of HIF1α. Lys63-linked ubiquitination of HIF1α by XIAP is dependent on the activity of E2 ubiquitin conjugating enzyme Ubc13. We find that XIAP and Ubc13 dependent Lys63-linked polyubiquitination promotes HIF1α nuclear retention leading to an increase in the expression of HIF1 responsive genes. Inhibition of the Lys63-linked polyubiquitination pathway leads to reduced levels of nuclear HIF1α, promoter occupancy, HIF-dependent gene expression and cell viability. Our data reveals an additional and significant level of control of the HIF1 by XIAP, with important implications in understanding the role of HIF1 and XIAP in human disease.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / chemistry
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / genetics
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism*
  • Lysine / metabolism*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / metabolism
  • Ubiquitination*
  • Up-Regulation
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein / metabolism*


  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein
  • XIAP protein, human
  • UBE2N protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes
  • Lysine