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Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions
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EPAS1

Reviewed August 2012

What is the official name of the EPAS1 gene?

The official name of this gene is “endothelial PAS domain protein 1.”

EPAS1 is the gene's official symbol. The EPAS1 gene is also known by other names, listed below.

What is the normal function of the EPAS1 gene?

The EPAS1 gene, often known as HIF2A, provides instructions for making a protein called hypoxia-inducible factor 2-alpha (HIF-2α). This protein is one part (subunit) of a larger protein complex called HIF, which plays a critical role in the body's ability to adapt to changing oxygen levels. HIF controls several important genes involved in cell division, the formation of new blood vessels, and the production of red blood cells. It is the major regulator of a hormone called erythropoietin, which controls red blood cell production.

HIF-2α is constantly produced in the body. When adequate oxygen is available, other proteins target HIF-2α to be broken down (degraded) so it does not build up. However, when oxygen levels are lower than normal (hypoxia), HIF-2α is degraded at a slower rate. Consequently, more HIF is available to stimulate the formation of new blood vessels and the production of red blood cells. These activities help maximize the amount of oxygen that can be delivered to the body's organs and tissues.

Studies suggest that the EPAS1 gene is involved in the body's adaptation to high altitude. At higher altitudes, such as in mountainous regions, air pressure is lower and less oxygen enters the body through the lungs. Over time, the body compensates for the lower oxygen levels by changing breathing patterns and producing more red blood cells and blood vessels.

Does the EPAS1 gene share characteristics with other genes?

The EPAS1 gene belongs to a family of genes called bHLH (basic helix-loop-helix).

A gene family is a group of genes that share important characteristics. Classifying individual genes into families helps researchers describe how genes are related to each other. For more information, see What are gene families? (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/howgeneswork/genefamilies) in the Handbook.

How are changes in the EPAS1 gene related to health conditions?

familial erythrocytosis - caused by mutations in the EPAS1 gene

At least five mutations in the EPAS1 gene have been found to cause familial erythrocytosis, an inherited condition characterized by an increased number of red blood cells and an elevated risk of abnormal blood clots. When familial erythrocytosis results from EPAS1 gene mutations, it is often designated ECYT4.

Mutations in the EPAS1 gene change single protein building blocks (amino acids) in the HIF-2α protein. These changes prevent HIF-2α from interacting normally with the proteins that target it for degradation. As a result, HIF-2α is not degraded efficiently, and HIF accumulates in cells even when adequate oxygen is available. The presence of extra HIF leads to the production of red blood cells when no more are needed, resulting in an excess of these cells in the bloodstream.

Where is the EPAS1 gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 2p21-p16

Molecular Location on chromosome 2: base pairs 46,297,401 to 46,386,702

The EPAS1 gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 2 between positions 21 and 16.

The EPAS1 gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 2 between positions 21 and 16.

More precisely, the EPAS1 gene is located from base pair 46,297,401 to base pair 46,386,702 on chromosome 2.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/howgeneswork/genelocation) in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about EPAS1?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about EPAS1 helpful.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for the EPAS1 gene or gene products?

  • basic-helix-loop-helix-PAS protein MOP2
  • bHLHe73
  • class E basic helix-loop-helix protein 73
  • ECYT4
  • endothelial PAS domain-containing protein 1
  • EPAS-1
  • EPAS1_HUMAN
  • HIF-1alpha-like factor
  • HIF-1-alpha-like factor
  • HIF2A
  • HIF2-alpha
  • HIF-2-alpha
  • HLF
  • hypoxia-inducible factor 2 alpha
  • hypoxia-inducible factor 2-alpha
  • member of PAS protein 2
  • MOP2
  • PASD2
  • PAS domain-containing protein 2

See How are genetic conditions and genes named? (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/mutationsanddisorders/naming) in the Handbook.

What glossary definitions help with understanding EPAS1?

acids ; adaptation ; cell ; cell division ; class ; degradation ; domain ; familial ; gene ; hormone ; hypoxia ; inherited ; oxygen ; protein ; red blood cell ; subunit

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary (http://www.ghr.nlm.nih.gov/glossary).

References

  • Beall CM, Cavalleri GL, Deng L, Elston RC, Gao Y, Knight J, Li C, Li JC, Liang Y, McCormack M, Montgomery HE, Pan H, Robbins PA, Shianna KV, Tam SC, Tsering N, Veeramah KR, Wang W, Wangdui P, Weale ME, Xu Y, Xu Z, Yang L, Zaman MJ, Zeng C, Zhang L, Zhang X, Zhaxi P, Zheng YT. Natural selection on EPAS1 (HIF2alpha) associated with low hemoglobin concentration in Tibetan highlanders. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 22;107(25):11459-64. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1002443107. Epub 2010 Jun 7. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20534544?dopt=Abstract)
  • Furlow PW, Percy MJ, Sutherland S, Bierl C, McMullin MF, Master SR, Lappin TR, Lee FS. Erythrocytosis-associated HIF-2alpha mutations demonstrate a critical role for residues C-terminal to the hydroxylacceptor proline. J Biol Chem. 2009 Apr 3;284(14):9050-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M808737200. Epub 2009 Feb 10. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19208626?dopt=Abstract)
  • Lee FS, Percy MJ. The HIF pathway and erythrocytosis. Annu Rev Pathol. 2011;6:165-92. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pathol-011110-130321. Review. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20939709?dopt=Abstract)
  • McMullin MF. HIF pathway mutations and erythrocytosis. Expert Rev Hematol. 2010 Feb;3(1):93-101. doi: 10.1586/ehm.09.68. Review. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21082936?dopt=Abstract)
  • NCBI Gene (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/2034)
  • Percy MJ, Chung YJ, Harrison C, Mercieca J, Hoffbrand AV, Dinardo CL, Santos PC, Fonseca GH, Gualandro SF, Pereira AC, Lappin TR, McMullin MF, Lee FS. Two new mutations in the HIF2A gene associated with erythrocytosis. Am J Hematol. 2012 Apr;87(4):439-42. doi: 10.1002/ajh.23123. Epub 2012 Feb 24. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22367913?dopt=Abstract)
  • Percy MJ, Rumi E. Genetic origins and clinical phenotype of familial and acquired erythrocytosis and thrombocytosis. Am J Hematol. 2009 Jan;84(1):46-54. doi: 10.1002/ajh.21313. Review. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19006225?dopt=Abstract)
  • Percy MJ. Familial erythrocytosis arising from a gain-of-function mutation in the HIF2A gene of the oxygen sensing pathway. Ulster Med J. 2008 May;77(2):86-8. Review. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18711622?dopt=Abstract)
  • Perrotta S, Della Ragione F. The HIF2A gene in familial erythrocytosis. N Engl J Med. 2008 May 1;358(18):1966; author reply 1966-7. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18456918?dopt=Abstract)
  • Simonson TS, McClain DA, Jorde LB, Prchal JT. Genetic determinants of Tibetan high-altitude adaptation. Hum Genet. 2012 Apr;131(4):527-33. doi: 10.1007/s00439-011-1109-3. Epub 2011 Nov 9. Review. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22068265?dopt=Abstract)
  • van Wijk R, Sutherland S, Van Wesel AC, Huizinga EG, Percy MJ, Bierings M, Lee FS. Erythrocytosis associated with a novel missense mutation in the HIF2A gene. Haematologica. 2010 May;95(5):829-32. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2009.017582. Epub 2009 Dec 8. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20007141?dopt=Abstract)

 

The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/consult/findingprofessional) in the Handbook.

 
Reviewed: August 2012
Published: August 18, 2014