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Chem Biol Interact. 2001 Jan 30;130-132(1-3):815-24.

Metabolic activation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon trans-dihydrodiols by ubiquitously expressed aldehyde reductase (AKR1A1).

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  • 1Departments of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 3620 Hamilton Walk, 19104-6084, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are metabolized to trans-dihydrodiol proximate carcinogens by CYP1A1 and epoxide hydrolase (EH). CYP1A1 or aldo-keto reductases (AKRs) from the 1C subfamily can further activate the trans-dihydrodiols by forming either anti-diol-epoxides or reactive and redox active o-quinones, respectively. To determine whether other AKR superfamily members can divert trans-dihydrodiols to o-quinones, the cDNA encoding human aldehyde reductase (AKR1A1) was isolated from hepatoma HepG2 cells using RT-PCR, subcloned into a prokaryotic expression vector, overexpressed in E. coli and purified to homogeneity in milligram amounts. Studies revealed that AKR1A1 preferentially oxidized the metabolically relevant (-)-[3R,4R]-dihydroxy-3,4-dihydrobenz[a]anthracene. AKR1A1 also displayed high utilization ratios (V(max)/K(m)) for the following PAH trans-dihydrodiols: (+/-)trans-3,4-dihydroxy-3,4-dihydro-7-methylbenz[a]anthracene, (+/-)trans-3,4-dihydroxy-3,4-dihydro-7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene and (+/-)trans-7,8-dihydroxy-7,8-dihydro-5-methylchrysene. Multiple tissue expression (MTE) arrays were used to measure the co-expressed of CYP1A1, EH and AKR1A1. All the three enzymes co-expressed to sites of PAH activation. The high catalytic efficiency of AKR1A1 for potent proximate carcinogen trans-dihydrodiols and its presence in tissues that contain CYP1A1 and EH suggests that it plays an important role in this alternative pathway of PAH activation (supported by CA39504).

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