2016 Volume 39 Issue 4 Pages 641-647
Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α is a transcription factor belonging to the HIF family that is activated in mammalian cells during conditions of low oxygen tension or hypoxia to induce an adaptive response and promote cell survival. Some of the genes targeted by HIF-1α are important for angiogenesis and proliferation. Here, we found that the E26 transformation-specific (ETS) transcription factor myeloid elf-1-like factor (MEF)/Elf4 is activated by HIF-1α. MEF induces genes such as human beta-defensin 2 (HβD2) and perforin (PRF1), and is known to affect the cell cycle. Treatment with hypoxia mimetic CoCl2 or low O2 incubation up-regulated MEF mRNA and protein levels in various cell lines. HIF-1α overexpression in HEK293 cells also increased MEF mRNA and protein levels. In contrast, HIF-1α knockdown by small interfering RNA (siRNA) suppressed the induction of MEF in response to hypoxia. HIF-1α binds to the hypoxia response element in the MEF promoter region (−200 bp) and activates MEF promoter under hypoxia condition. The induction of MEF by hypoxia/HIF-1α correlated with the increase of MEF target genes HβD2 and PRF1. Intriguingly, the hypoxia-induced expression of HIF-1α target gene vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was enhanced by the exogenous addition of MEF. Overall, these data indicate that hypoxia or HIF-1α positively regulates MEF expression and function.