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The ability of Antarctic notothenioid fishes to mount a robust molecular response to hypoxia is largely unknown. The transcription factor, hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), a heterodimer of HIF-1α and HIF-1β subunits, is the master regulator of oxygen homeostasis in most metazoans. We sought to determine if, in the hearts of Antarctic notothenioids, HIF-1 is activated and functional in response to either an acute heat stress or hypoxia. The red-blooded Notothenia coriiceps and the hemoglobinless icefish, Chaenocephalus aceratus, were exposed to their critical thermal maximum (CTMAX) or hypoxia (5.0 ± 0.3 mg of O2 L-1) for 2 h. Additionally, N. coriiceps was exposed to 2.3 ± 0.3 mg of O2 L-1 for 12 h, and red-blooded Gobionotothen gibberifrons was exposed to both levels of hypoxia. Levels of HIF-1α were quantified in nuclei isolated from heart ventricles using western blotting. Transcript levels of genes involved in anaerobic metabolism, and known to be regulated by HIF-1, were quantified by real-time PCR, and lactate levels were measured in heart ventricles. Protein levels of HIF-1α increase in nuclei of hearts of N. coriiceps and C. aceratus in response to exposure to CTMAX and in hearts of N. coriiceps exposed to severe hypoxia, yet mRNA levels of anaerobic metabolic genes do not increase in any species, nor do lactate levels increase, suggesting that HIF-1 does not stimulate metabolic remodeling in hearts of notothenioids under these conditions. Together, these data suggest that Antarctic notothenioids may be vulnerable to hypoxic events, which are likely to increase with climate warming. Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.


K M O'Brien, A S Rix, T J Grove, J Sarrimanolis, A Brooking, M Roberts, E L Crockett. Characterization of the hypoxia-inducible factor-1 pathway in hearts of Antarctic notothenioid fishes. Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part B, Biochemistry & molecular biology. 2020 Dec;250:110505

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PMID: 32966875

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