Ixr1p from Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been previously studied because it binds to DNA containing intrastrand cross-links formed by the anticancer drug cisplatin. Ixr1p is also a transcriptional regulator of anaerobic/hypoxic genes, such as SRP1/TIR1, which encodes a stress-response cell wall manoprotein, and COX5B, which encodes the Vb subunit of the mitochondrial complex cytochrome c oxidase. However, factors controlling IXR1 expression remained unexplored. In the present study we show that IXR1 mRNA levels are controlled by oxygen availability and increase during hypoxia. In aerobiosis, low levels of IXR1 expression are maintained by Rox1p repression through the general co-repressor complex Tup1–Ssn6. Ixr1p itself is necessary for full IXR1 expression under hypoxic conditions. Deletion analyses have identified the region in the IXR1 promoter responsible for this positive auto-control (nucleotides −557 to −376). EMSA (electrophoretic mobility-shift assay) and ChIP (chromatin immunoprecipitation) assays show that Ixr1p binds to the IXR1 promoter both in vitro and in vivo. Ixr1p is also required for hypoxic repression of ROX1 and binds to its promoter. UPC2 deletion has opposite effects on IXR1 and ROX1 transcription during hypoxia. Ixr1p is also necessary for resistance to oxidative stress generated by H2O2. IXR1 expression is moderately activated by H2O2 and this induction is Yap1p-dependent. A model of IXR1 regulation as a relay for sensing different signals related to change in oxygen availability is proposed. In this model, transcriptional adaptation from aerobiosis to hypoxia depends on ROX1 and IXR1 cross-regulation.

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