Mitochondrial complex III is required for hypoxia-induced ROS production and gene transcription in yeast

Robert D. Guzy, Matthew M. Mack, Paul T. Schumacker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


To survive, respiring organisms must sense and respond to changes in environmental oxygen levels. Complex III of the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) has been implicated in the O2 sensing pathway in mammals through its ability to increase production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) during hypoxia. The present study tested whether Complex III in yeast also contributes to O2 sensing during hypoxia. Strains deficient in mitochondrial DNA (ρ0), the Rieske iron - sulfur protein (ΔRip1) in Complex III, or an enzyme responsible for coenzyme Q biosynthesis (ΔCoq2) were studied to determine the importance of Complex III activity in the transcriptional response to hypoxia. Loss of Complex III function abrogated the hypoxia-induced increase in ROS in each strain. Northern analysis identified a set of genes that are activated by hypoxia in wild-type but not in ρ0, ΔRip1, or ΔCoq2 strains. Yeast lacking the transcription factors Yap1p, Mga2p, and Msn2p were also deficient in hypoxic activation of gene transcription, suggesting the importance of redox regulation in hypoxic gene expression. The authors conclude that Complex III of the ETC is required for ROS production and for expression of a group of hypoxia-inducible genes in yeast. These findings indicate that the mitochondrial O2 sensing mechanism is highly conserved throughout evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1317-1328
Number of pages12
JournalAntioxidants and Redox Signaling
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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