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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2 (2002), Issue 3, Pages 131-135
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/S1110724302205057
Review article

Playing Tag with HIF: The VHL Story

Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Medical Sciences Building, Room 6306, 1 King's College Circle, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8, Canada

Received 28 February 2002; Accepted 13 May 2002

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumour suppressor gene product pVHL is the cause of inherited VHL disease and is associated with sporadic kidney cancer. pVHL is found in a multiprotein complex with elongins B/C, Cul2, and Rbx1 forming an E3 ubiquitin ligase complex called VEC. This modular enzyme targets the α subunits of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) for ubiquitin-mediated destruction. Consequently, tumour cells lacking functional pVHL overproduce the products of HIF-target genes such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which promotes angiogenesis. This likely accounts for the hypervascular nature of VHL-associated neoplasms. Although pVHL has been linked to the cell-cycle, differentiation, and the regulation of extracellular matrix assembly, microenvironment pH, and tissue invasiveness, this review will focus on the recent insights into the molecular mechanisms governing the E3 ubiquitin ligase function of VEC.