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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1996 Nov;141(1):238-47.

Dioxin induces transcription of fos and jun genes by Ah receptor-dependent and -independent pathways.

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Center for Environmental Genetics, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Ohio 45267-0056, USA.


Halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons, such as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD; dioxin), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, such as benzo[a]pyrene, are environmental contaminants that cause many apparently unrelated toxic effects. In a previous study, we have shown that treatment of mouse hepatoma cells with TCDD or B(a)P results in an increase in mRNA levels of the immediate-early protooncogenes c-fos, c-jun, junB, and junD, and the concomitant increase of the DNA-binding activity of the transcription factor AP-1, a dimer of FOS and JUN proteins. To analyze the mechanism of fos/jun activation by TCDD we have used electrophoretic mobility shift and transient expression assays of reporter gene constructs containing response elements for 12-O-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate (TRE), serum (SRE), cAMP (CRE), and aromatic hydrocarbons (AhRE) from the fos and jun genes fused to the firefly luciferase gene under the control of the SV40 minimal promoter. In mouse hepatoma Hepa-1 cells, which have Ah receptor (AHR) and Ah receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT) proteins, inclusion of TRE, SRE, and the AhRE motifs from c-jun and junD, but not CRE or the AhREs from c-fos, fosB, and junB, causes a large TCDD-dependent increase in luciferase expression. In agreement with these results, c-jun and junD, but not c-fos, fosB, and junB AhREs, competed with a canonical Cyp1A1 AhRE for binding to the AHR ARNT heterodimeric complex. In African Green Monkey CV-1 cells, which lack AHR, expression plasmids with AhRE motifs require coexpression of AHR and ARNT for TCDD to stimulate luciferase expression. In contrast, SRE-containing expression plasmids respond equally well to TCDD whether or not AHR and ARNT are coexpressed. These results suggest that TCDD induces expression of the immediate-early response genes fos and jun by activation of possibly three separate signal transduction pathways, at least one of which does not require a functional Ah receptor complex.

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