Evidence for ligand-mediated selective modulation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor activity

Iain A. Murray, Jose L. Morales, Colin A. Flaveny, Brett C. DiNatale, Chris Chiaro, Krishnegowda Gowdahalli, Shantu Amin, Gary H. Perdew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (SciVal)


The concept of selective receptor modulators has been established for the nuclear steroid hormone receptors. Such selective modulators have been used therapeutically with great success in the treatment of cancer. However, this concept has not been examined with regard to the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) because of the latent toxicity commonly associated with AHR activation. AHR-mediated toxicity is primarily derived from AHR binding to its dioxin response element (DRE) and driving expression of CYP1 family members, which have the capacity to metabolize procarcinogens to genotoxic carcinogens. Recent evidence using a non-DRE binding AHR mutant has established the DRE-independent suppression of inflammatory markers by the AHR. We wished to determine whether such DRE-independent repression with wild-type AHR could be dissociated from canonical DRE-dependent transactivation in a ligand-dependent manner and, in doing so, prove the concept of a selective AHR modulator (SAhRM). Here, we identify the selective estrogen receptor (ER) modulator Way-169916 as a dually selective modulator, binding both ER and AHR. Inflammatory gene expression associated with the cytokine-inducible acute-phase response (e.g., SAA1 and CRP) are diminished by Way-169916 in an AHR-dependent manner. Furthermore, activation of AHR by Way-169916 fails to stimulate canonical DRE-driven AHR-mediated CYP1A1 expression, thus eliminating the potential for AHR-mediated genotoxic stress. Such anti-inflammatory activity in the absence of DRE-mediated expression fulfills the major criteria of an SAhRM, which suggests that selective modulation of AHR is possible and renders the AHR a therapeutically viable drug target for the amelioration of inflammatory disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-254
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence for ligand-mediated selective modulation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor activity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this