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Toxicology. 2002 Dec 27;181-182:143-6.

Effect of ARA9 on dioxin receptor mediated transcription.

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Department of Molecular BioScience (Biochemistry), Adelaide University, Adelaide 5005, South Australia, Australia.


The dioxin (Aryl hydrocarbon) receptor (DR) is a unique bHLH transcription factor which is activated by binding of planar aromatic hydrocarbons typified by dioxin (TCDD). The active receptor is key to metabolism of aryl hydrocarbon xenobiotics by being a potent inducer of CYP1A1 gene activity. Chlorinated dioxins are inert to metabolism and initiate multifarious toxicities, including potent tumour promotion. These ill-effects are mediated by the activated DR and we are studying the mechanisms by which the ligand binding domain of the DR controls activity of the protein. The DR ligand binding domain resides within a PAS (Per/Arnt/Sim homology) region which is contiguous with the bHLH. The latent bHLH/PAS dioxin receptor (DR) is found in the cytoplasm of most mammalian cell types in a complex with heat shock protein 90, a novel immunophilin like protein termed ARA9/XAP2/AIP, and the co-chaperone p23. Here we use antisense ARA9 constructs to reveal that in the absence of ARA9, the DR is unable to form a transcriptionally active complex. Co-expression of antisense ARA9 with a form of the DR which is constitutively targeted to the nucleus leads to dramatically decreased levels of the nuclear DR protein, implying that ARA9 may function beyond its currently proposed role in cytoplasmic retention of the latent DR.

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