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Toxicol Lett. 2010 Apr 15;194(1-2):26-33. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2010.01.019. Epub 2010 Jan 29.

Differential regulation of the dioxin-induced Cyp1a1 and Cyp1b1 genes in mouse hepatoma and fibroblast cell lines.

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Molecular Toxicology Program, Dept of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


The xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes Cyp1a1 and Cyp1b1 can be induced by the environmental contaminant 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-rho-dioxin (dioxin) via the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). These genes are differentially induced by dioxin in different mouse cell lines. In the mouse hepatoma cell line Hepa1c1c7 (Hepa-1), the Cyp1a1 gene is induced to very high levels by dioxin, but the levels of Cyp1b1 mRNA are extremely low and are not inducible by dioxin. The reverse is the case for the mouse embryonic fibroblast cell line C3H10T1/2, in which Cyp1b1 is induced to very high levels by dioxin, but the levels of Cyp1a1 mRNA are extremely low and not inducible by dioxin. However, dioxin treatment leads to the recruitment of AhR to the enhancer regions of both genes in both cell lines. Somatic cell hybrid clones generated between the two cell lines display high levels of induction of both genes in response to dioxin. Strong reactivation of the Cyp1a1 gene was also observed in C3H10T1/2 cell line after treatment with the DNA methyl transferase inhibitor, 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-AzadC) and the histone deacetylase inhibitor, trichostatin-A (TSA). However, only modest reactivation of Cyp1b1 was observed in Hepa-1 cells after 5-AzadC or TSA treatment. These data demonstrate that the presence or absence of binding of AhR to regulatory regions is not responsible for determining the differences in levels of induction of the two genes in these cell lines and indicate that DNA methylation plays a major role in silencing of Cyp1a1 gene expression in C3H10T1/2 cells, but appears to play only a minor role in silencing Cyp1b1 gene expression in Hepa-1 cells, which likely occurs principally because Hepa-1 cells lack a factor required for high levels of induction of this gene.

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