Identification of HIF-2α-regulated genes that play a role in human microvascular endothelial sprouting during prolonged hypoxia in vitro

Tessa D Nauta, Marloes van den Broek, Sue Gibbs, Tineke C T M van der Pouw-Kraan, Cees B Oudejans, Victor W M van Hinsbergh, Pieter Koolwijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


During prolonged hypoxic conditions, endothelial cells change their gene expression to adjust to the low oxygen environment. This process is mainly regulated by the hypoxia-inducible factors, HIF-1α and HIF-2α. Although endothelial cells do not form sprouts during prolonged hypoxic culturing, silencing of HIF-2α partially restores sprout formation. The present study identifies novel HIF-2α-target genes that may regulate endothelial sprouting during prolonged hypoxia. The gene expression profile of primary human microvascular endothelial cells (hMVECs) that were cultured at 20 % oxygen was compared to hMVECs that were cultured at 1 % oxygen for 14 days by using genome-wide RNA-sequencing. The differentially regulated genes in hypoxia were compared to the genes that were differentially regulated upon silencing of HIF-2α in hypoxia. Surprisingly, KEGG pathway analysis showed that metabolic pathways were enriched within genes upregulated in response to hypoxia and enriched within genes downregulated upon HIF-2α silencing. Moreover, 51 HIF-2α-regulated genes were screened for their role in endothelial sprouting in hypoxia, of which four genes ARRDC3, MME, PPARG and RALGPS2 directly influenced endothelial sprouting during prolonged hypoxic culturing. The manipulation of specific downstream targets of HIF-2α provides a new, but to be further evaluated, perspective for restoring reduced neovascularization in several pathological conditions, such as diabetic ulcers or other chronic wounds, for improvement of vascularization of implanted tissue-engineered scaffolds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-54
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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