Functional activation of heat shock factor and hypoxia-inducible factor in the kidney

Oliver Eickelberg, Frank Seebach, Michael Riordan, Gunilla Thulin, Andrea Mann, Kimberly H. Reidy, Scott K. Van Why, Michael Kashgarian, Norman Siegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Renal ischemia is the result of a complex series of events, including decreases in oxygen supply (hypoxia) and the availability of cellular energy (ATP depletion). In this study, the functional activation of two stress-responsive transcription factors, i.e., heat shock factor-1 (HSF-1) and hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), in the kidney was assessed. When rats were subjected to 45 min of renal ischemia, electrophoretic mobility shift assays of kidney nuclear extracts revealed rapid activation of both HIF-1 and HSF. Western blot analyses further demonstrated that this activation resulted in increased expression of the HSF and HIF-1 target genes heat shock protein-72 and heme oxygenase-1, respectively. Whether hypoxia or ATP depletion alone could produce similar activation patterns in vitro was then investigated. Renal epithelial LLC-PK1 cells were subjected to either ATP depletion (0.1 μM antimycin A and glucose deprivation) or hypoxia (1% O2). After ATP depletion, HSF was rapidly activated (within 30 min), whereas HIF-1 was unaffected. In contrast, hypoxia led to the activation of HIF-1 but not HSF. Hypoxic activation of HIF-1 was observed within 30 min and persisted for 4 h, whereas no HSF activation was detected even with prolonged periods of hypoxia. HIF-1 was transcriptionally active in LLC-PK1 cells, as demonstrated by luciferase reporter gene assays using the vascular endothelial growth factor promoter or a synthetic promoter construct containing three hypoxia-inducible elements. Interestingly, intracellular ATP levels were not affected by hypoxia but were significantly reduced by ATP depletion. These findings suggest that HIF-1 is activated specifically by decreased O2 concentrations and not by reduced ATP levels alone. In contrast, HSF is activated primarily by metabolic stresses associated with ATP depletion and not by isolated O2 deprivation. In vivo, the two transcription factors are simultaneously activated during renal ischemia, which might account for observed differences between in vivo and in vitro epithelial cell injury and repair. Selective modulation of either pathway might therefore be of potential interest for modification of the response of the kidney to ischemia, as well as the processes involved in recovery from ischemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2094-2101
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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