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Nuclear Hormone Receptor NHR-49 Acts in Parallel with HIF-1 to Promote Hypoxia Adaptation in Caenorhabditis elegans

By March 31, 2022April 4th, 2022No Comments

The response to insufficient oxygen (hypoxia) is orchestrated by the conserved hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF). However, HIF-independent hypoxia response pathways exist that act in parallel with HIF to mediate the physiological hypoxia response. Here, we describe a hypoxia response pathway controlled by Caenorhabditis elegans nuclear hormone receptor NHR-49, an orthologue of mammalian peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα). We show that nhr-49 is required for animal survival in hypoxia and is synthetic lethal with hif-1 in this context, demonstrating that these factors act in parallel. RNA-seq analysis shows that in hypoxia nhr-49 regulates a set of genes that are hif-1-independent, including autophagy genes that promote hypoxia survival. We further show that nuclear hormone receptor nhr-67 is a negative regulator and homeodomain-interacting protein kinase hpk-1 is a positive regulator of the NHR-49 pathway. Together, our experiments define a new, essential hypoxia response pathway that acts in parallel with the well-known HIF-mediated hypoxia response.