An inducible autoregulatory loop between HIPK2 and Siah2 at the apex of the hypoxic response.
Oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) results in reprogrammed gene expression patterns that induce multifaceted cellular responses. Here we identify a regulated interaction between the serine/threonine kinase HIPK2 and the ubiquitin E3 ligase Siah2 as a mechanism controlling the hypoxic response. Under normoxic conditions, several mechanisms ensure HIPK2 stability: only a fraction of HIPK2 is found in association with Siah2, whereas HIPK2-mediated phosphorylation of this E3 ligase at positions 26, 28 and 68 weakens mutual binding and destabilizes its phosphorylated interaction partner. Hypoxic conditions allow a markedly increased HIPK2/Siah2 interaction and result in efficient polyubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation of the kinase. Accordingly, hypoxia-induced HIPK2 elimination is markedly reduced in Siah2-deficient cells. As HIPK2 has an important role as a negative regulator of gene expression, its elimination from promoter-associated repressor complexes allows the induction of a substantial fraction of hypoxia-induced genes.