Analysis and Effect of Persistent Ah Receptor Activation

  • Denison, Michael S (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The overall goal of our research is to understand the molecular mechanism by which halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons (HAHs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and related chemicals interact with the Ah receptor (AhR) to alter gene expression and responses of cells and animals to these inducers. The AhR is a ligand-dependent transcription factor that mediates the majority of the biological and toxicological actions of HAHs and PAHs. Significant species, tissue- and ligand-specific differences have been reported in the spectrum of toxic and biological responses observed following exposure to HAHs and PAHs but also in the concentration of chemicals needed to produce these responses, with HAHs being significantly more potent than PAHs. Although differential responsiveness to HAHs and PAHs can result from a variety of biochemical and physiological characteristics in target cells, it is generally accepted that the greater toxicological and biological potency of HAHs results from their significantly higher AhR binding affinity and resistance to metabolism. Recent evidence has demonstrated that differences exist in the potency and efficacy of HAHs and PAHs as activators of AhR-dependent gene expression that are separate from those directly related to their persistence and metabolic stability in the cell. We hypothesize that some of the differences in the potency and biological responses produced by PAHs and HAHs are directly related to ligand-specific differences in the structure of the AhR protein and/or AhR protein complex that alters the functionality of the AhR and its relative affinity/specificity for DNA/chromatin. Accordingly, here we propose to conduct detailed comparative studies to characterize the similarities and differences in the activation and persistence of ligand and DNA/chromatin binding of mouse AhR occupied by selected HAHs and PAHs in vitro and in cells in culture and to identify and characterize ligand-dependent changes in AhR structure. The DREnucleotide
specificity for transcriptional activation of gene expression by AhR complexes bound by HAHs
and PAHs and similarities and differences in HAH- and PAH-induction of gene expression assessed in cells culture and CYP null mice using microarrays. Finally, transgenic animals expressing a consitutively active (e.g., ligand-independent) AhR complex will be generated to examine contributions of the AhR and the ligand to the adverse effects associated with this persistent AhR activation. Overall, these studies will provide insights into the species- and ligand-specific differences in the ability of HAHs and PAHs to activate the AhR, the mechanisms responsible for the persistence of this activation and the role that it plays in the toxic and biological effects of HAHs and PAHs.
Effective start/end date12/1/0411/30/09


  • National Institutes of Health: $236,093.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $245,415.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $231,370.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $242,691.00


  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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