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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR)/AHR nuclear translocator ( ARNT) heterodimer interacts with naturally occurring estrogen response elements.

To determine the molecular mechanisms underlying the "cross talk" between the activity of 2,3,7,8-tetra-chlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), which binds to arylhydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and estradiol (E2)-liganded estrogen receptor ( ER), we first examined the initial step of estrogen action, ligand binding to ER. None of the AHR ligands tested, i.e. TCDD, benzo[a]pyrene, 3,3',4,4',5-pentachlorobiphenyl, beta-naphthoflavone, or alpha-naphthoflavone, bound to ER alpha. We report the first examination of TCDD interaction with ER beta: TCDD did not displace E2 from ER beta. We then examined a second possible mechanism, i.e. direct inhibition of ER alpha binding to estrogen response elements (EREs) by the AHR/AHR nuclear translocator ( ARNT) complex. The AHR/ ARNT heterodimer did not bind either a full or half-site ERE. However, AHR/ARNT bound specifically to oligomers containing naturally occurring EREs derived from the human c-fos, pS2, and progesterone receptor ( PR) gene promoters that include xenobiotic response element (XRE)-like sequences. In contrast, neither purified E2-liganded- ER from calf uterus or recombinant human ER alpha bound a consensus XRE. TCDD inhibited E2-activated reporter gene activity from a consensus ERE and from EREs in the pS2, PR, and Fos genes in transiently transfected MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. However, this inhibition was not reciprocal since E2 did not inhibit TCDD-stimulated luciferase activity from the CYP1A1 promoter in transiently transfected MCF-7 or human endometrial carcinoma HEC-1A cells. We propose that at least part of the mechanism by which the AHR/ ARNT complex inhibits estrogen action is by competitively inhibiting ER alpha binding to imperfect ERE sites, adjacent to or overlapping XREs.[1]


  1. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR)/AHR nuclear translocator (ARNT) heterodimer interacts with naturally occurring estrogen response elements. Klinge, C.M., Bowers, J.L., Kulakosky, P.C., Kamboj, K.K., Swanson, H.I. Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. (1999) [Pubmed]
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