Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

By the early 1900s, the close matching of oxygen supply with demand was recognized to be a fundamental requirement for physiological function, and multiple adaptive responses to environment hypoxia had been described. Nevertheless, the widespread operation of mechanisms that directly sense and respond to levels of oxygen in animal cells was not appreciated for most of the twentieth century with investigators generally stressing the regulatory importance of metabolic products. Work over the last 25 years has overturned that paradigm. It has revealed the existence of a set of "oxygen-sensing" 2-oxoglutarate dependent dioxygenases that catalyze the hydroxylation of specific amino acid residues and thereby control the stability and activity of hypoxia-inducible factor. The hypoxia-inducible factor hydroxylase pathway regulates a massive transcriptional cascade that is operative in essentially all animal cells. It transduces a wide range of responses to hypoxia, extending well beyond the classical boundaries of hypoxia physiology. Here we review the discovery and elucidation of these pathways, and consider the opportunities and challenges that have been brought into focus by the findings, including new implications for the integrated physiology of hypoxia and therapeutic approaches to ischemic/hypoxic disease.

Original publication




Journal article


Hypoxia (Auckl)

Publication Date





197 - 213


2-oxoglutarate oxygenase, HIF, cell signaling, hydroxylase, hypoxia, oxygen-sensing