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Mol Cell Biol. 2009 Jul;29(13):3465-77. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00206-09. Epub 2009 Apr 20.

The active form of human aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) repressor lacks exon 8, and its Pro 185 and Ala 185 variants repress both AHR and hypoxia-inducible factor.

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  • 1Biology Department, MS#32, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) repressor (AHRR) inhibits AHR-mediated transcription and has been associated with reproductive dysfunction and tumorigenesis in humans. Previous studies have characterized the repressor function of AHRRs from mice and fish, but the human AHRR ortholog (AHRR(715)) appeared to be nonfunctional in vitro. Here, we report a novel human AHRR cDNA (AHRRDelta8) that lacks exon 8 of AHRR(715). AHRRDelta8 was the predominant AHRR form expressed in human tissues and cell lines. AHRRDelta8 effectively repressed AHR-dependent transactivation, whereas AHRR(715) was much less active. Similarly, AHRRDelta8, but not AHRR(715), formed a complex with AHR nuclear translocator (ARNT). Repression of AHR by AHRRDelta8 was not relieved by overexpression of ARNT or AHR coactivators, suggesting that competition for these cofactors is not the mechanism of repression. AHRRDelta8 interacted weakly with AHR but did not inhibit its nuclear translocation. In a survey of transcription factor specificity, AHRRDelta8 did not repress the nuclear receptor pregnane X receptor or estrogen receptor alpha but did repress hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-dependent signaling. AHRRDelta8-Pro(185) and -Ala(185) variants, which have been linked to human reproductive disorders, both were capable of repressing AHR or HIF. Together, these results identify AHRRDelta8 as the active form of human AHRR and reveal novel aspects of its function and specificity as a repressor.

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