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Pharmacogenetics. 1991 Nov;1(2):68-78.

Human AH locus polymorphism and cancer: inducibility of CYP1A1 and other genes by combustion products and dioxin.

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Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, OH 45267-0056.


The polymorphism of mammalian aromatic hydrocarbon (Ah) responsiveness appears to be correlated with genetic differences in risk of bronchogenic carcinoma caused by cigarette smoking. The human polymorphism has been uncovered, largely as the result of corresponding genetic differences characterized first in the mouse. The murine Ah locus has been defined as the gene encoding the aromatic hydrocarbon-responsive (Ah) receptor, responsible for the inducibility of a battery of at least six genes, two of which encode P450 enzymes. The high-affinity receptor and, hence, more highly induced levels of P450, can result in greater concentrations of polycyclic aromatic reactive intermediates that form DNA adducts and, ultimately, mutation fixation (tumour initiation). The Ah receptor is also likely to participate in growth and differentiation signal transduction pathways (tumour promotion). Positive and negative control regions flanking the murine Cyp 1a-1 and human CYP1A1 (cytochrome P(1)450) genes have been identified. A DNA motif approximately 1 kb upstream of the transcription start site appears to affect the translatability of the CYP1A1 mRNA and activity of the enzyme. Expression of the CYP1A1 or CYP1A2 enzyme in mouse hepatoma Hepa-1 cells lacking endogenous CYP1A1 activity represses constitutive transcription of not only the endogenous Cyp1a-1 gene but other genes in the dioxin-inducible [Ah] battery. Human polymorphisms involving a Msp I site 450 bp downstream from the last CYP1A1 exon have been described in Japan, the Eastern Mediterranean, Norway and the USA. The '1.9 allele' is associated with an increased incidence of Kreyberg Type I bronchogenic carcinomas in Japan and has recently been correlated with a valine-to-isoleucine substitution at position 462 in the haeme-binding region. This allele is about 3 times more frequent in Japan than in Caucasians of Norway and the USA, in which no correlation has been found between this allele and lung cancer. More work is needed to clarify these findings. Isolation and sequencing of the human Ah receptor cDNA, and the subsequent screening of populations for polymorphisms, hold great promise for predicting interindividual risk of cancer caused by smoking and other environmental pollutants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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