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

Probing the control elements of the CYP1A1 switching module in H4IIE hepatoma cells.

Previous research from our laboratory has shown a switch-like response to PCB 126 mediated CYP1A1 induction in primary rat hepatocytes and in H4IIE rat hepatoma cells. On a single cell level, cells appear to be either "on" or "off" for CYP1A1 induction at a given dose; some cells never respond to PCB 126. These cells represent a non-responding population. Cells that are switched "on" by PCB 126 display varying levels of induction, much like the dimmer on a light switch. The goal of the present research is to begin to uncover the mechanism for this switch-like response to CYP1A1 induction in H4IIE rat hepatoma cells. The AhR pathway is modulated by multiple co-activators and by phosphorylation. This research focuses on the phosphorylation cascades initiated by PCB 126 and the role they play in CYP1A1 induction. Our research reveals a likely role for protein kinase C ( PKC) in this switch response. Inhibition of PKC by H-7 dramatically reduced the percent of cells that express CYP1A1 in response to PCB 126 treatment, as determined by flow cytometry. The effect of H-7 was concentration dependent, decreasing the number of cells expressing CYP1A1 rather than decreasing the level of CYP1A1 in all cells. This finding provides further evidence for the switch-like behavior of CYP1A1 induction and implicates PKC in this response to PCB126. The protein kinase inhibitor, HA-1004, had only a minor effect on CYP1A1 induction. A high-throughput immunoblot screen for 40 proteins revealed the regulation of several proteins/phosphoproteins by PCB 126. Most importantly, two proteins containing phosphoserine/phoshothreonine residues were increased by PCB126 treatment. However, PKC translocation studies and activity studies failed to verify that PCB126 activates PKC. It is possible that constitutive PKC activity is sufficient to maintain phosphorylation of critical components of the AhR pathway. Immunoblotting studies showed that MAP kinases ERK and JNK are not activated by PCB 126 in H4IIE cells and the ERK inhibitor U0126 did not impair CYP1A1 induction. Additional studies are planned to further investigate the role of PKC in the switch-like response to PCB 126.[1]


  1. Probing the control elements of the CYP1A1 switching module in H4IIE hepatoma cells. Broccardo, C.J., Billings, R.E., Andersen, M.E., Hanneman, W.H. Toxicol. Sci. (2005) [Pubmed]
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