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PLOS Biology  2011 

Nothing Iffy about HIF in the Hypothalamus

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001116

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Two crucial biological processes are (1) the sensing and coordination of responses to low oxygen levels and (2) the control of food intake and energy expenditure. The hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) family of proteins is known to regulate responses to low oxygen, whereas neuropeptides derived from proopiomelanocortin (POMC) are implicated in the control of food intake and energy expenditure. It is now becoming apparent that these two apparently disparate processes may be linked, with the exciting discovery that HIF proteins can act in the brain to regulate food intake and energy expenditure as reported in the current issue of PLoS Biology. This primer discusses the traditional role of HIF proteins in terms of responding to oxygen levels in the periphery and also their new role in coordinating responses to nutrients in the brain through regulation of POMC.


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