Modulation of HIF-2α PAS-B domain contributes to physiological responses

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Dec 26;115(52):13240-13245. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1810897115. Epub 2018 Dec 6.


Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are transcription factors in the basic helix-loop-helix PER-ARNT-SIM (bHLH-PAS) protein family that contain internal hydrophobic cavities within their PAS-A and PAS-B domains. Among HIFs, the HIF-2α PAS-B domain contains a relatively large cavity exploited for the development of specific artificial ligands such as PT2399. Administration of PT2399 could suppress HIF-2α target gene expression without affecting HIF-1 activity in mice under hypoxia conditions. A single mutation (S305M) within the HIF-2α PAS-B domain suppressed HIF-2α activity while conferring resistance to PT2399 in vivo, indicating the vital role of PAS-B domain in HIF-2α hypoxia response. In contrast, the mutant mice did not phenocopy PT2399 intervention in wild-type mice under metabolic stress. Under a high-fat diet (HFD), the mutant mice exert enhanced adipogenesis and obtain larger adipose mass and body weight gain compared to wild type. However, administration of PT2399 along with HFD feeding sufficiently suppressed HFD-induced body weight and adipose mass increase through suppression of adipogenesis and lipogenesis. The accompanying decreased lipid accumulation in the liver and improved glucose tolerance in wild-type mice were not observed in the mutant mice indicating negative regulation of HIF-2α on obesity and a complex role for the PAS-B domain in metabolic regulation. Notably, short-term administration of PT2399 to obese mice decreased adipose mass and improved metabolic condition. These results indicate a regulatory role for HIF-2α in obesity progression and suggest a therapeutic opportunity for PT2399 in obesity and associated metabolic disorders.

Keywords: HIF-2α antagonist; adipogenesis; hypoxia; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Hypoxia / complications*
  • Indans / pharmacology*
  • Ligands
  • Metabolic Diseases / etiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / pathology
  • Metabolic Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / etiology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Protein Domains
  • Sulfones / pharmacology*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Indans
  • Ligands
  • PT2399
  • Sulfones
  • endothelial PAS domain-containing protein 1