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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2011 Apr;68(7):1131-46. doi: 10.1007/s00018-010-0600-7. Epub 2010 Dec 24.

Role of xenobiotic metabolism in cancer: involvement of transcriptional and miRNA regulation of P450s.

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Department of Genetics, Cell- and Immunobiology, Faculty of Medicine, Semmelweis University, PO Box 370, Budapest, 1445, Hungary.


Cytochrome P450 enzymes (P450s) are important targets in cancer, due to their role in xenobiotic metabolism. Since P450s are the "bridges" between the environment and our body, their function can be linked in many ways to carcinogenesis: they activate dietary and environmental components to ultimate carcinogens (i), the cancer tissue maintains its drug resistance with altered expression of P450s (ii), P450s metabolize (sometimes activate) drugs used for cancer treatment (iii) and they are potential targets for anticancer therapy (iiii). These highly polymorphic enzymes are regulated at multiple molecular levels. Regulation is as important as genetic difference in the existing individual variability in P450 activity. In this review, examples of the transcriptional (DNA methylation, histone modification, modulation by xenosensors) and post-transcriptional (miRNA) regulation will be presented and thereby introduce potential molecular targets at which the metabolism of anticancer drugs, the elimination of cancerogenes or the progress of carcinogenesis could be affected.

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