The Ah receptor (AhR) mediates many of the toxic responses induced by polyhalogenated and polycyclic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are ubiquitous environmental contaminants causing toxic responses in human and wildlife. NF- κB is a pleiotropic transcription factor controlling many physiological functions adversely affected by PAHs, including immune suppression, thymus involution, hyperkeratosis, and carcinogenesis. Here, we show physical interaction and mutual functional repression between AhR and NF-κB. This mutual repression may provide an underlying mechanism for many hitherto poorly understood PAH-induced toxic responses, and may also provide a mechanistic explanation for alteration of xenobiotic metabolism by cytokines and compounds that regulate NF-κB.
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