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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Feb 10;340(2):491-7. Epub 2005 Dec 19.

3'-UTR polymorphism in the human CYP2A6 gene affects mRNA stability and enzyme expression.

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Division of Molecular Toxicology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6) is the major nicotine C-oxidase in human and participates in the metabolism of drugs and precarcinogens. The CYP2A6 gene is highly polymorphic and more than 22 different alleles have been described. We here focused on the polymorphism in the 3'-UTR region, in particular the common CYP2A6*1B allele, carrying an unequal crossover element from the pseudogene CYP2A7. Analysis of CYP2A6 expression in a human liver bank (n=46) revealed that the protein level and catalytic activity using coumarin as a substrate were all higher, following a linear gene-dose relationship, in livers carrying one or two copies of CYP2A6*1B, as compared to other CYP2A6 allelic variants. Different variants of the CYP2A6 3'-UTR were cloned into a modified pGL3 plasmid downstream of the luciferase reporter gene. The plasmids, having the proximal promoter of CYP2A6 gene, were transfected into HeLa cells or injected into the tail veins of male CD1 mice. In both systems, the 3'-UTR CYP2A6*1B constructs caused higher reporter gene activity and the CYP2A7 3'-UTR construct lower activity, compared to the CYP2A6*1 3'-UTR constructs. Two SNPs differentiating the 3'-UTR between CYP2A7 and CYP2A6*1B were found to be of importance for the expression in both systems. Analysis of reporter enzyme degradation in HeLa cells showed that luciferase-3'-UTR-CYP2A6*1A had a half-life of approximately 4.9h as compared to 6.3h for luciferase-3'-UTR-CYP2A6*1B. In conclusion, we identified polymorphic motifs in the CYP2A6 3'-UTR of importance for CYP2A6 mRNA stabilization and enzyme expression. Such polymorphism has been described to influence the in vivo rate of nicotine elimination and possibly the cigarette consumption and risk of smoking induced lung cancer.

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