Prolyl hydroxylase domain (PHD) proteins are oxygen sensors that use intracellular oxygen as a substrate to hydroxylate hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) α proteins, routing them for polyubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation. Typically, HIFα accumulation in hypoxic or PHD-deficient tissues leads to upregulated angiogenesis. Here, we report unexpected retinal phenotypes associated with endothelial cell (EC)-specific gene targeting of Phd2 (Egln1) and Hif2alpha (Epas1). EC-specific Phd2 disruption suppressed retinal angiogenesis, despite HIFα accumulation and VEGFA upregulation. Suppressed retinal angiogenesis was observed both in development and in the oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) model. On the other hand, EC-specific deletion of Hif1alpha (Hif1a), Hif2alpha, or both did not affect retinal vascular morphogenesis. Strikingly, retinal angiogenesis appeared normal in mice double-deficient for endothelial PHD2 and HIF2α. In PHD2-deficient retinal vasculature, delta-like 4 (DLL4, a NOTCH ligand) and HEY2 (a NOTCH target) were upregulated by HIF2α-dependent mechanisms. Inhibition of NOTCH signaling by a chemical inhibitor or DLL4 antibody partially rescued retinal angiogenesis. Taken together, our data demonstrate that HIF2α accumulation in retinal ECs inhibits rather than stimulates retinal angiogenesis, in part by upregulating DLL4 expression and NOTCH signaling.

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