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Mol Pharmacol. 2006 Jan;69(1):140-53. Epub 2005 Oct 7.

Aryl hydrocarbon receptor regulates distinct dioxin-dependent and dioxin-independent gene batteries.

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Department of Pharmacology, Medical Sciences Building, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8, Canada.

Erratum in

  • Mol Pharmacol. 2006 Nov;70(5):1840.


Conventional biochemical and molecular techniques identified previously several genes whose expression is regulated by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). We sought to map the complete spectrum of AHR-dependent genes in male adult liver using expression arrays to contrast mRNA profiles in Ahr-null mice (Ahr(-/-)) with those in mice with wild-type AHR (Ahr(+)(/)(+)). Transcript profiles were determined both in untreated mice and in mice treated 19 h earlier with 1000 microg/kg 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). Expression of 456 ProbeSets was significantly altered by TCDD in an AHR-dependent manner, including members of the classic AHRE-I gene battery, such as Cyp1a1, Cyp1a2, Cyp1b1, and Nqo1. In the absence of exogenous ligand, AHR status alone affected expression of 392 ProbeSets, suggesting that the AHR has multiple functions in normal physiology. In Ahr(-/-) mice, only 32 ProbeSets exhibited responses to TCDD, indicating that the AHR is required for virtually all transcriptional responses to dioxin exposure in liver. The flavin-containing monooxygenases, Fmo2 and Fmo3, considered previously to be uninducible, were highly induced by TCDD in an AHR-dependent manner. The estrogen receptor alpha as well as two estrogen-receptor-related genes (alpha and gamma) exhibit AHR-dependent expression, thereby extending cross-talk opportunities between the intensively studied AHR and estrogen receptor pathways. p53 binding sites are over-represented in genes down-regulated by TCDD, suggesting that TCDD inhibits p53 transcriptional activity. Overall, our study identifies a wide range of genes that depend on the AHR, either for constitutive expression or for response to TCDD.

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