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Nucl Recept. 2004 Mar 25;2(1):1.

Alternative splicing affects the function and tissue-specific expression of the human constitutive androstane receptor.

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Dr, Margarete Fischer-Bosch Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Auerbachstrasse 112, D-70376 Stuttgart, Germany.



The constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) plays a key role in the control of drug metabolism and transport by mediating the phenobarbital-type induction of many phase I and II drug metabolizing enzymes and drug transporters.


We identified transcripts generated by four different alternative splicing events in the human CAR gene. Two of the corresponding ligand binding domain isoforms demonstrated novel functional properties: First, CAR(SV3), which is encoded by a transcript containing an lengthened exon 7, differentially transactivated target gene promoters. Second, CAR(SV2), which results from the use of an alternative 3' splice site lengthening exon 8, showed ligand-dependent instead of constitutive interaction with coactivators. Furthermore, alternatively spliced transcripts demonstrated a tissue-specific expression pattern. In most tissues, only transcripts generated by alternative splicing within exon 9 were expressed. The encoded variant demonstrated a loss-of-function phenotype. Correct splicing of exon 8 to exon 9 is restricted to only a few tissues, among them liver and small intestine for which CAR function has been demonstrated, and is associated with the induction of CAR expression during differentiation of intestinal cells.


Due to their specific activities, CAR variant proteins SV2 and SV3 may modulate the activity of reference CAR(SV1). Furthermore, we propose that transcriptional activation and regulation of splicing of exon 9 may be coupled to ensure appropriate tissue- and differentiation state-specific expression of transcripts encoding functional CAR protein. Altogether, alternative splicing seems to be of utmost importance for the regulation of CAR expression and function.

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