Calcineurin promotes hypoxia-inducible factor 1α expression by dephosphorylating RACK1 and blocking RACK1 dimerization

Ye V. Liu, Maimon E. Hubbi, Fan Pan, Karin R. McDonald, Malini Mansharamani, Robert N. Cole, Jun O. Liu, Gregg L. Semenza

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123 Scopus citations


Oxygen homeostasis represents an essential organizing principle of metazoan evolution and biology. Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a master regulator of transcriptional responses to changes in O2 concentration. HIF-1 is a heterodimer of HIF-1α and HIF-1β subunits. O2- dependent degradation of the HIF-1α subunit is mediated by prolyl hydroxylase, von Hippel-Lindau protein (VHL)/Elongin-C E3 ubiquitin ligase, and the proteasome. O2-independent degradation of HIF-1α is regulated by the competition of RACK1 and HSP90 for binding to HIF-1α. RACK1 binding results in the recruitment of the Elongin-C E3 ubiquitin ligase, leading to VHL-independent ubiquitination and degradation of HIF-1α. In this report, we show that calcineurin inhibits the ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of HIF-1α. Calcineurin is a serine/threonine phosphatase that is activated by calcium and calmodulin. The phosphatase activity of calcineurin is required for its regulation of HIF-1α. RACK1 binds to the catalytic domain of calcineurin and is required for HIF-1α degradation induced by the calcineurin inhibitor cyclosporine A. Elongin-C and HIF-1α each bind to RACK1 and dimerization of RACK1 is required to recruit Elongin-C to HIF-1α. Phosphorylation of RACK1 promotes its dimerization and dephosphorylation by calcineurin inhibits dimerization. Serine 146 within the dimerization domain is phosphorylated and mutation of serine 146 impairs RACK1 dimerization and HIF-1α degradation. These results indicate that intracellular calcium levels can regulate HIF-1α expression by modulating calcineurin activity and RACK1 dimerization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37064-37073
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 21 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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