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J Biol Chem. 2019 Jul 19;294(29):11342-11353. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.008882. Epub 2019 Jun 6.

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor is a tumor suppressor-like gene in glioblastoma.

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Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843.
Department of Neurosurgery, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 48201.
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Roanoke, Virginia 24016.
Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843


The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) plays an important role in maintaining cellular homeostasis and also in pathophysiology. For example, the interplay between the gut microbiome and microbially derived AhR ligands protects against inflammation along the gut-brain axis. The AhR and its ligands also inhibit colon carcinogenesis, but it has been reported that the AhR and its ligand kynurenine enhance glioblastoma (GBM). In this study, using both established and patient-derived GBM cells, we re-examined the role of kynurenine and the AhR in GBM, observing that kynurenine does not modulate AhR-mediated gene expression and does not affect invasion of GBM cells. Therefore, using an array of approaches, including ChIP, quantitative real-time PCR, and cell migration assays, we primarily focused on investigating the role of the AhR in GBM at the functional molecular and genomic levels. The results of transient and stable CRISPR/Cas9-mediated AhR knockdown in GBM cells indicated that loss of AhR enhances GBM tumor growth in a mouse xenograft model, increases GBM cell invasion, and up-regulates expression of pro-invasion/pro-migration genes, as determined by ingenuity pathway analysis of RNA-Seq data. We conclude that the AhR is a tumor suppressor-like gene in GBM; future studies are required to investigate whether the AhR could be a potential drug target for treating patients with GBM who express this receptor.


aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR); gene regulation; glioblastoma; gut microbiome; invasion; kynurenine; migration; nuclear transcription factor; tryptophan catabolism; tumor suppressor gene

[Available on 2020-07-19]

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