The hypoxia-inducible factors: key transcriptional regulators of hypoxic responses
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Oxygen depravation in mammals leads to the transcriptional induction of a host of target genes to metabolically adapt to this deficiency, including erythropoietin and vascular endothelial growth factor. This response is primarily mediated by the hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) which are members of the basic-helix-loop-helix/Per-ARNT-Sim (bHLH/PAS) transcription factor family. The HIFs are primarily regulated via a two-step mechanism of HIF post-translational modification, increasing both protein stability and transactivation capacity. This review aims to summarise our current understanding of these processes, and discuss the important role of the HIFs in the pathophysiology of many human diseases.
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