Hypoxia-Inducible Factor α and Hif-prolyl Hydroxylase Characterization and Gene Expression in Short-Time Air-Exposed Mytilus galloprovincialis

Alessia Giannetto, Maria Maisano, Tiziana Cappello, Sabrina Oliva, Vincenzo Parrino, Antonino Natalotto, Giuseppe De Marco, Chiara Barberi, Orazio Romeo, Angela Mauceri, Salvatore Fasulo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aquatic organisms experience environmental hypoxia as a result of eutrophication and naturally occurring tidal cycles. Mytilus galloprovincialis, being an anoxic/hypoxic-tolerant bivalve, provides an excellent model to investigate the molecular mechanisms regulating oxygen sensing. Across the animal kingdom, inadequacy in oxygen supply is signalled predominantly by hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF) and Hif-prolyl hydroxylases (PHD). In this study, hif-α 5′-end and partial phd mRNA sequences from M. galloprovincialis were obtained. Phylogenetic and molecular characterization of both HIF-α and PHD putative proteins showed shared key features with the respective orthologues from animals strongly suggesting their crucial involvement in the highly conserved oxygen sensing pathway. Both transcripts displayed a tissue-specific distribution with prominent expression in gills. Quantitative gene expression analysis of hif-α and phd mRNAs from gills of M. galloprovincialis demonstrated that both these key sensors are transcriptionally modulated by oxygen availability during the short-time air exposure and subsequent re-oxygenation treatments proving that they are critical players of oxygen-sensing mechanisms in mussels. Remarkably, hif-α gene expression showed a prompt and transient response suggesting the precocious implication of this transcription factor in the early phase of the adaptive response to hypoxia in Mytilus. HIF-α and PHD proteins were modulated in a time-dependent manner with trends comparable to mRNA expression patterns, thus suggesting a central role of their transcriptional regulation in the hypoxia tolerance strategies in marine bivalves. These results provide molecular information about the effects of oxygen deficiency and identify hypoxia-responsive biomarker genes in mussels applicable in ecotoxicological studies of natural marine areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)768-781
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Biotechnology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 16 2015


  • Gene expression
  • Hypoxia-inducible factor
  • Mytilus galloprovincialis
  • Oxygen sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Biotechnology


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