Research ArticleCell Biology

Perinuclear Mitochondrial Clustering Creates an Oxidant-Rich Nuclear Domain Required for Hypoxia-Induced Transcription

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Sci. Signal.  03 Jul 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 231, pp. ra47
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002712

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Mitochondria can govern local concentrations of second messengers, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS), and mitochondrial translocation to discrete subcellular regions may contribute to this signaling function. Here, we report that exposure of pulmonary artery endothelial cells to hypoxia triggered a retrograde mitochondrial movement that required microtubules and the microtubule motor protein dynein and resulted in the perinuclear clustering of mitochondria. This subcellular redistribution of mitochondria was accompanied by the accumulation of ROS in the nucleus, which was attenuated by suppressing perinuclear clustering of mitochondria with nocodazole to destabilize microtubules or with small interfering RNA–mediated knockdown of dynein. Although suppression of perinuclear mitochondrial clustering did not affect the hypoxia-induced increase in the nuclear abundance of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) or the binding of HIF-1α to an oligonucleotide corresponding to a hypoxia response element (HRE), it eliminated oxidative modifications of the VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) promoter. Furthermore, suppression of perinuclear mitochondrial clustering reduced HIF-1α binding to the VEGF promoter and decreased VEGF mRNA accumulation. These findings support a model for hypoxia-induced transcriptional regulation in which perinuclear mitochondrial clustering results in ROS accumulation in the nucleus and causes oxidative base modifications in the VEGF HRE that are important for transcriptional complex assembly and VEGF mRNA expression.

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