Advances in Hypoxia-Inducible Factor Biology

Cell Metab. 2018 Feb 6;27(2):281-298. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.10.005. Epub 2017 Nov 9.


Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), a central regulator for detecting and adapting to cellular oxygen levels, transcriptionally activates genes modulating oxygen homeostasis and metabolic activation. Beyond this, HIF influences many other processes. Hypoxia, in part through HIF-dependent mechanisms, influences epigenetic factors, including DNA methylation and histone acetylation, which modulate hypoxia-responsive gene expression in cells. Hypoxia profoundly affects expression of many noncoding RNAs classes that have clinicopathological implications in cancer. HIF can regulate noncoding RNAs production, while, conversely, noncoding RNAs can modulate HIF expression. There is recent evidence for crosstalk between circadian rhythms and hypoxia-induced signaling, suggesting involvement of molecular clocks in adaptation to fluxes in nutrient and oxygen sensing. HIF induces increased production of cellular vesicles facilitating intercellular communication at a distance-for example, promoting angiogenesis in hypoxic tumors. Understanding the complex networks underlying cellular and genomic regulation in response to hypoxia via HIF may identify novel and specific therapeutic targets.

Keywords: HIF; cancer; circadian rhythms; epigenetics; exosomes; hypoxia; molecular clocks; non-coding RNAs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Clocks / genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Exosomes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / genetics
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism*


  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit