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Exp Cell Res. 2006 Nov 1;312(18):3585-94. Epub 2006 Aug 9.

Zinc finger transcription factor Slug is a novel target gene of aryl hydrocarbon receptor.

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  • 1Research Institute for Clinical Oncology, Saitama Cancer Center, 818 Komuro, Ina-machi, Kitaadachi-gun, Saitama 362-0806, Japan.


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor. We previously showed that AhR localizes predominantly in the cytoplasm under high cell densities of a keratinocytes cell line, HaCaT, but accumulates in the nucleus at low cell densities. In the current report, we show that the Slug, which is a member of the snail/slug family of zinc finger transcriptional repressors critical for induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMT), is activated transcriptionally in accordance with nuclear accumulation of AhR. By reporter assay of the promoter of the Slug gene, gel shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses showed AhR directly binds to xenobiotic responsive element 5 at -0.7 kb of the gene. AhR-targeted gene silencing by small interfering RNA duplexes led to the abolishment of not only CYP1A1 but also Slug induction by 3-methycholanthrene. The Slug was co-localized to the AhR at the wound margins of HaCaT cells, where apparent nuclear distribution of AhR and Slug was observed. The induced Slug was associated with reduction of an epithelial marker of cytokeratin-18 and with an increase in the mesenchymal marker, fibronectin. Taken together, these findings suggest that AhR participated in Slug induction, which, in turn, regulates cellular physiology including cell adhesion and migration.

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