Induction and regulation of xenobiotic-metabolizing cytochrome P450s in the human A549 lung adenocarcinoma cell line

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2000 Mar;22(3):360-6. doi: 10.1165/ajrcmb.22.3.3845.


Several cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes are expressed in the human lung, where they participate in metabolic inactivation and activation of numerous exogenous and endogenous compounds. In this study, the expression pattern of all known xenobiotic-metabolizing CYP genes was characterized in the human alveolar type II cell-derived A549 adenocarcinoma cell line using qualitative reverse transcriptase/polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In addition, the mechanisms of induction by chemicals of members in the CYP1 and CYP3A subfamilies were assessed by quantitative RT-PCR. The expression of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) of CYPs 1A1, 1B1, 2B6, 2C, 2E1, 3A5, and 3A7 was detected in the A549 cells. The amounts of mRNAs of CYPs 1A2, 2A6, 2A7, 2A13, 2F1, 3A4, and 4B1 were below the limit of detection. 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) induced CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 mRNAs 56-fold and 2.5-fold, respectively. CYP3A5 was induced 8-fold by dexamethasone and 11-fold by phenobarbital. CYP3A4 was not induced by any of the typical CYP3A4 inducers used. The tyrosine kinase inhibitor genistein and the protein kinase C inhibitor staurosporine blocked TCDD-elicited induction of CYP1A1, but they did not affect CYP1B1 induction. Protein phosphatase inhibitors okadaic acid and calyculin A enhanced TCDD-induction of CYP1B1 slightly, but had negligible effects on CYP1A1 induction. These results suggest that CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 are differentially regulated in human pulmonary epithelial cells and give the first indication of the induction of CYP3A5 by glucocorticoids in human lung cells. These results establish that having retained several characteristics of human lung epithelial cell CYP expression, the A549 lung cell line is a valuable model for mechanistic studies on induction of the pulmonary CYP system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / genetics*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / metabolism*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1B1
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / enzymology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Phenobarbital / pharmacology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / cytology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / enzymology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rifampin / pharmacology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / enzymology
  • Xenobiotics / metabolism*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Xenobiotics
  • Dexamethasone
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • CYP1B1 protein, human
  • CYP3A protein, human
  • CYP3A5 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1B1
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • CYP3A4 protein, human
  • Rifampin
  • Phenobarbital