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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.
Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.
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? in the Handbook.
How are changes in the EPAS1 gene related to health conditions?
Where is the EPAS1 gene located?
Cytogenetic Location: 2p21-p16
Molecular Location on chromosome 2: base pairs 46,297,402 to 46,386,703
(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (
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 46,297,402 to base pair 46,386,703 on chromosome 2.
See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? 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?
See How are genetic conditions and genes named? in the Handbook.
Where can I find general information about genes?
The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.
These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.
What glossary definitions help with understanding EPAS1?
You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.
References (11 links)
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? in the Handbook.