Flavonoids-induced accumulation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1alpha/2alpha is mediated through chelation of iron.J Cell Biochem. 2008 Apr 15; 103(6):1989-98.JC
Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1alpha) is the regulatory subunit of the heterodimeric transcription factor HIF-1 that is the key regulator of cellular response to low oxygen tension. Under normoxic conditions, HIF-1alpha is continuously degraded by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway through pVHL (von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor protein). Under hypoxic conditions, HIF-1alpha is stabilized and induces the transcription of HIF-1 target genes. Quercetin, a flavonoid with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and kinase modulating properties, has been found to induce HIF-1alpha accumulation and VEGF secretion in normoxia. In this study, the molecular mechanisms of quercetin-mediated HIF-1alpha accumulation were investigated. Previous studies have shown that, in addition to being induced by hypoxia, HIF-1alpha can be induced through the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and p53 signaling pathways. But our study revealed, through p53 mutant-type as well as p53 null cell lines, that neither the PI3K/Akt nor the p53 signaling pathway is required for quercetin-induced HIF-1alpha accumulation. And we observed that HIF-1alpha accumulated by quercetin is not ubiquitinated and the interaction of HIF-1alpha with pVHL is reduced, compared with HIF-1alpha accumulated by the proteasome inhibitor MG132. The use of quercetin's analogues showed that only quercetin and galangin induce HIF-1/2alpha accumulation and this effect is completely reversed by additional iron ions. This is because quercetin and galangin are able to chelate cellular iron ions that are cofactors of HIF-1/2alpha proline hydroxylase (PHD). These data suggest that quercetin inhibits the ubiquitination of HIF-1/2alpha in normoxia by hindering PHD through chelating iron ions.