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Biol Chem. 2010 Nov;391(11):1305-13. doi: 10.1515/BC.2010.115.

Zonation of heme synthesis enzymes in mouse liver and their regulation by β-catenin and Ha-ras.

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Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Department of Toxicology, University of Tübingen, Wilhelmstrasse 56, Tübingen, Germany.


Cytochrome P450 (CYP) hemoproteins play an important role in hepatic biotransformation. Recently, β-catenin and Ha-ras signaling have been identified as players controlling transcription of various CYP genes in mouse liver. The aim of the present study was to analyze the role of β-catenin and Ha-ras in the regulation of heme synthesis. Heme synthesis-related gene expression was analyzed in normal liver, in transgenic mice expressing activated β-catenin or Ha-ras, and in hepatomas. Regulation of the aminolevulinate dehydratase promoter was studied in vitro. Elevated expression of mRNAs and proteins involved in heme biosynthesis was linked to β-catenin activation in perivenous hepatocytes, in transgenic hepatocytes, and in hepatocellular tumors. Stimulation of the aminolevulinate dehydratase promoter by β-catenin was independent of the β-catenin/T-cell-specific transcription factor dimer. By contrast, activation of Ha-ras repressed heme synthesis-related gene expression. The present data suggest that β-catenin enhances the expression of both CYPs and heme synthesis-related genes, thus coordinating the availability of CYP apoprotein and its prosthetic group heme. The reciprocal regulation of heme synthesis by β-catenin and Ha-ras-dependent signaling supports our previous hypothesis that antagonistic action of these pathways plays a major role in the control of zonal gene expression in healthy mouse liver and aberrant expression patterns in hepatocellular tumors.

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