The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) mediates the induction of a variety of xenobiotic metabolism genes. Activation of the AhR occurs through binding to a group of structurally diverse compounds, most notably dioxins, which are exogenous ligands. Isoflavones are part of a family which include some well characterised endogenous AhR ligands. This paper analysed a novel family of these compounds, based on the structure of 2-amino-isoflavone. Initially two luciferase-based cell models, mouse H1L6.1c2 and human HG2L6.1c3, were used to identify whether the compounds had AhR agonistic and/or antagonistic properties. This analysis showed that some of the compounds were weak agonists in mouse and antagonists in human. Further analysis of two of the compounds, Chr-13 and Chr-19, was conducted using quantitative real-time PCR in rat H4IIE and human MCF-7 cells. The results indicated that Chr-13 was an agonist in rat but an antagonist in human cells. Chr-19 was shown to be an agonist in rat but more interestingly, a partial agonist in human. Luciferase induction results not only revealed that subtle differences in the structure of the compound could produce species-specific differences in response but also dictated the ability of the compound to be an AhR agonist or antagonist. Substituted 2-amino-isoflavones represent a novel group of AhR ligands that must differentially interact with the AhR ligand binding domain to produce their species-specific agonist or antagonist activity and future ligand binding analysis and docking studies with these compounds may provide insights into the differential mechanisms of action of structurally similar compounds.
- Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)
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