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J Biol Chem. 2004 Dec 10;279(50):51769-74. Epub 2004 Oct 1.

Role of Bach-1 in regulation of heme oxygenase-1 in human liver cells: insights from studies with small interfering RNAS.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Pharmacology, the General Clinical Research Center of the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06030, USA.


Heme oxygenase-1 is an antioxidant defense enzyme that converts heme to biliverdin, iron, and carbon monoxide. Bach-1 is a bZip protein that forms heterodimers with small Maf proteins and was reported recently to down-regulate the HO-1 gene in mice. Using small interfering RNAs targeted to human Bach-1 mRNA, we investigated whether modulation of human hepatic Bach-1 expression by small interfering (si)RNA technology influences heme oxygenase-1 gene expression. We found that Bach-1 siRNAs transfected into Huh-7 cells significantly reduced Bach-1 mRNA and protein levels approximately 80%, compared with non siRNA-treated cells. In contrast, transfection with the same amounts of nonspecific control duplexes or LaminB2-duplex did not reduce Bach-1 mRNA or protein levels, confirming the specificity of Bach-1 siRNA. Expression of the heme oxygenase-1 gene in Bach-1 siRNA-transfected cells was up-regulated 7-fold, compared with cells without Bach-1 siRNA. The effect of increasing concentrations of heme to up-regulate levels of heme oxygenase-1 was more pronounced when Bach-1 siRNA was present. Taken together, these results indicated that Bach-1 has a specific and selective ability to repress expression of human hepatic heme oxygenase-1. Silencing of Bach-1 by siRNAs is a useful method for up-regulating HO-1 gene expression. Exogenous heme produces additional up-regulation, beyond that produced by Bach-1 siRNAs, suggesting that heme does not act solely through its effects on Bach-1.

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