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J Biol Chem. 1989 Apr 15;264(11):6371-5.

Transcriptional activation of the heme oxygenase gene by heme and cadmium in mouse hepatoma cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Louisiana State University Medical Center, New Orleans 70112.


Treatment of mouse hepatoma (Hepa) cells with heme or cadmium chloride in serum-free medium causes a rapid increase in the steady-state level of heme oxygenase (HO) messenger RNA. This increase is both dose- and time-dependent. Maximum accumulation of HO mRNA is observed 3 h after addition of either agent. Treatment of Hepa cells with heme or CdCl2 also stimulates the transcription of the HO gene, as judged by in vitro nuclear transcription run-on assays. The maximum rate of HO gene transcription occurs 2 h after treatment with either agent. Comparison of the relative increase in the rate of HO gene transcription with the relative increase in the level of HO mRNA demonstrates that transcriptional activation is the primary mechanism by which heme and cadmium produce the accumulation of HO mRNA in Hepa cells. Cadmium may also influence other processes involved in the expression of HO, since the time course of mRNA accumulation diverges from that of gene transcription. However, neither heme nor cadmium alters the rate of HO mRNA degradation. Cobalt chloride and heat shock, which are potent inducers of HO mRNA in rat liver and rat C6 glioma cells, respectively, have only a small effect on the level of HO mRNA in mouse hepatoma cells.

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