Hypoxia and oxygen-sensing signaling in gene regulation and cancer progression

Guang Yang, Rachel Shi, Qing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Oxygen homeostasis regulation is the most fundamental cellular process for adjusting physiological oxygen variations, and its irregularity leads to various human diseases, including cancer. Hypoxia is closely associated with cancer development, and hypoxia/oxygen-sensing signaling plays critical roles in the modulation of cancer progression. The key molecules of the hypoxia/oxygen-sensing signaling include the transcriptional regulator hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) which widely controls oxygen responsive genes, the central members of the 2-oxoglutarate (2-OG)-dependent dioxygenases, such as prolyl hydroxylase (PHD or EglN), and an E3 ubiquitin ligase component for HIF degeneration called von Hippel–Lindau (encoding protein pVHL). In this review, we summarize the current knowledge about the canonical hypoxia signaling, HIF transcription factors, and pVHL. In addition, the role of 2-OG-dependent enzymes, such as DNA/RNA-modifying enzymes, JmjC domain-containing enzymes, and prolyl hydroxylases, in gene regulation of cancer progression, is specifically reviewed. We also discuss the therapeutic advancement of targeting hypoxia and oxygen sensing pathways in cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8162
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • HIFs
  • Hypoxia
  • JmjCs
  • PHDs
  • TETs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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