Hypoxia Activates Constitutive Luciferase Reporter Constructs

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Hypoxia has been identified as a contributing factor in the pathophysiology of several diseases and oxygen regulation is important during stem cell development, particularly in early embryogenesis. One aspect that has emerged is the role of hypoxia-inducible factors, or HIFs in regulating the effect of hypoxia. Studies in our laboratory sought to examine the hypoxic regulation of HIF activity in placental trophoblast cells, through the use of dual-reporter luciferase assays. Our study demonstrates that hypoxic conditions cause a significant increase in the level of constitutive luciferase reporter activity. We also show that this induction is not a cell-type or species-specific phenomenon and provides an alternative method for normalizing transfection efficiency in luciferase assays under hypoxic conditions. Our results suggest that in studies dealing with hypoxic conditions, caution should be used when interpreting measurements of transcriptional activity by traditional dual-reporter assays.