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Toxicol Sci. 2010 Dec;118(2):554-63. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfq305. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator in hepatocytes is required for aryl hydrocarbon receptor-mediated adaptive and toxic responses in liver.

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McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) plays a central role in the toxic responses to halogenated dibenzo-p-dioxins ("dioxins"), in the metabolic adaptation to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and in the development of the mature vascular system. A number of lines of evidence support the idea that the regulation of adaptive metabolism requires an AHR partnership with the aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT). Yet, for AHR-dependent vascular development and dioxin toxicity, the role of ARNT is less certain. In fact, numerous models have been proposed over the years to suggest that the AHR signals in important ways via ARNT-independent events. In an effort to clarify the role of ARNT in AHR-mediated dioxin hepatotoxicity, we generated a conditional Arnt mouse model. Such a model was essential because global inactivation of Arnt results in embryonic lethality presumably due to this protein's role as a heterodimeric partner for the hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs). Using a hepatocyte-specific Arnt deletion, we were able to demonstrate that hepatocyte ARNT is required for major aspects of AHR-mediated dioxin toxicity in the liver. Results from this conditional Arnt allele are also consistent with a model where hepatocyte ARNT is unrelated to AHR-mediated hepatovascular development. In sum, these data suggest that AHR-ARNT dimers within the hepatocyte direct the toxic and adaptive and developmental functions associated with the AHR and that developmental vascular events arise due to signaling in a distinct cell type expressing this dimeric pair.

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