Developmental stage-specific expression of the alpha and beta subunits of the HIF-1 protein in the mouse and human fetus.
Erythropoietin (Epo) is a glycoprotein hormone that is the primary regulator of erythropoiesis. Transcription of the Epo gene increases in response to hypoxia or anemia. Epo is synthesized in the liver in fetal life and in the kidney later in gestation. In the mammalian fetus the switch in Epo production from the liver to the kidney occurs in the third trimester. Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1) is a heterodimeric transcription factor consisting of an alpha and beta subunit that binds under hypoxic conditions to an enhancer element in the 3' region of the Epo gene. In order to determine if there is a relationship between expression of HIF-1 alpha and beta subunits with the shift in expression of the Epo gene from the liver to the kidney or with the transitional events occurring at birth we analyzed the expression of these mRNAs in mouse and human fetuses at different stages of gestation. Total RNA was extracted from the brain, heart, kidney, liver, and lungs of mice at P15, P17, and P19 of gestation, from newborn mice at Days 1 and 3, from an adult and an anemic adult mouse as well as from human fetuses at 14-22 weeks of gestation. RNA was analyzed by Northern blot and slot-blot hybridization using appropriate cDNA probes. HIF-1alpha and -beta mRNA were expressed in all tissues tested and at all stages of gestation in the mouse and human fetus. Expression of HIF-1alpha and -beta in the mouse fetus was highest in the brain followed by heart, kidney, lung, and liver. Expression in the fetal and newborn mice was higher versus the adult and expression was higher in the anemic versus the normal adult mouse. In the human fetus a higher expression of HIF-1alpha was noted in the brain followed by heart, kidney, lung, and liver. There was a small trend toward a decrease in expression with advancing gestational age. HIF-1beta was expressed to a similar extent in all human tissues examined. Our studies indicate that expression of HIF-1alpha and -beta subunits was not related to the switch in Epo gene expression from the liver to the kidney. Although expression of HIF-1alpha and -beta did not decrease immediately after birth, it is possible that the HIF-1 protein is involved in the various events that occur during transition after birth.
Madan, A; Varma, S; Cohen, HJ
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