Ligand and Dimerization Dependent Transactivation Capability of Aromatic Hydrocarbon Receptor

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The aromatic hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a cytosolic protein that binds the environmental pollutant, dioxin. The liganded AhR translocates into the nucleus where it heterimerizes with a constitutive nuclear protein, AhR nuclear translocator (Arnt). The N-terminal regions of both AhR and Arnt contain basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) and Per-AhR-Arnt-Sim (PAS) motifs that are required for DNA binding, dimerization, and ligand binding whereas the C-terminal regions of both AhR and Arnt contain transactivation domains. Here, results from the mammalian two-hybrid system indicate that Arnt can make a homodimer but AhR cannot. In the presence of dioxin, the interaction between AhR and Arnt is stronger than that of the Arnt homodimer, suggesting that Arnt prefers to make a heterodimer with the liganded AhR rather than a homodimer. Transfection analyses using the GAL4-driven reporter system suggest that AhR's N-terminal region represses its own transactivation domain, as well as exogenous transactivation domains such as Sp1 and VP16. Interestingly, the repressed transactivation domains of AhR are activated by ligand-dependent heterodimerization with Arnt. These observations suggest that heterodimerzation with Arnt is necessary not only for DNA binding but also for activation of the repressed transactivation capability of AhR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-287
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 31 May 1999


  • AhR
  • Arnt
  • Dioxin
  • Heterodimerization
  • Transactivation


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