An orphan nuclear receptor, termed the pregnane X receptor (PXR), has recently been cloned from mouse and human and defines a novel steroid signaling pathway (Cell 92, 73-82, 1998; Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95, 12208-122313, 1998). Transient cotransfection experiments demonstrate that the PXR responds to structurally dissimilar compounds and confers the induction of cytochrome P4503A (CYP3A), a subfamily of enzymes that involve the metabolism of two-thirds of drugs and other xenobiotics. In this report, we describe the molecular cloning, tissue distribution, and xenobiotic regulation of a rat PXR designated rPXR-1. rPXR-1 exhibits a 95% sequence identity with the mouse PXR, but only 79% identity with the human PXR, providing the molecular basis that rats and mice have a similar CYP3A induction profile but differ from humans. rPXR-1 gene was expressed abundantly in liver, intestine, and, to a lesser extent, kidney, lung, and stomach. The tissue distribution and the relative abundance of rPXR-1 mRNA among these tissues resemble those of CYP3A, suggesting that PXR is important not only for induction but also for constitutive expression of these enzymes. Xenobiotics known to induce liver microsomal enzymes showed differential effects on the rPXR-1 expression as determined by Northern blot analysis. Dexamethasone, for example, increased the accumulation of rPXR-1 mRNA, whereas troleandomycin slightly suppressed it. Compounds that increase PXR expression (inducers) and compounds that interact with PXR (ligands) likely have synergistic effects on CYP3A induction, which provides a novel molecular explanation for drug-drug interactions.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.