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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2009 Apr 15;236(2):166-82. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2009.01.005. Epub 2009 Jan 23.

Transgenic mouse lines expressing rat AH receptor variants--a new animal model for research on AH receptor function and dioxin toxicity mechanisms.

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Department of Food and Environmental Hygiene, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, P.O. Box 66, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.


Han/Wistar (Kuopio; H/W) rats are exceptionally resistant to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) toxicity mainly because of their mutated aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) gene. In H/W rats, altered splicing of the AHR mRNA generates two AHR proteins: deletion (DEL) and insertion (INS) variants, with the INS isoform being predominantly expressed. To gain further insight into their functional properties, cDNAs of these and rat wild-type (rWT) isoform were transferred into C57BL/6J-derived mice by microinjection. The endogenous mouse AHR was eliminated by selective crossing with Ahr-null mice. A single mouse line was obtained for each of the three constructs. The AHR mRNA levels in tissues were generally close to those of C57BL/6 mice in INS and DEL mice and somewhat higher in rWT mice; in testis, however, all 3 constructs exhibited marked overexpression. The transgenic mouse lines were phenotypically normal except for increased testis weight. Induction of drug-metabolizing enzymes by TCDD occurred similarly to that in C57BL/6 mice, but there tended to be a correlation with AHR concentrations, especially in testis. In contrast to C57BL/6 mice, the transgenics did not display any major gender difference in susceptibility to the acute lethality and hepatotoxicity of TCDD; rWT mice were highly sensitive, DEL mice moderately resistant and INS mice highly resistant. Co-expression of mouse AHR and rWT resulted in augmented sensitivity to TCDD and abolished the natural resistance of female C57BL/6 mice, whereas mice co-expressing mouse AHR and INS were resistant. Thus, these transgenic mouse lines provide a novel promising tool for molecular studies on dioxin toxicity and AHR function.

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