Endocrine disrupting chemicals, phthalic acid and nonylphenol, activate Pregnane X receptor-mediated transcription

Mol Endocrinol. 2000 Mar;14(3):421-8. doi: 10.1210/mend.14.3.0424.


Recently, Pregnane X receptor (PXR), a new member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, was shown to mediate the effects of several steroid hormones, such as progesterone, glucocorticoid, pregnenolone, and xenobiotics on cytochrome P450 3A genes (CYP3A) through the specific DNA sequence for CYP3A, suggesting that PXR may play a role in steroid hormone metabolism. In this paper, we demonstrated that phthalic acid and nonylphenol, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), stimulated PXR-mediated transcription at concentrations comparable to those at which they activate estrogen receptor-mediated transcription using a transient reporter gene expression assay in COS-7 cells. However, bisphenol A, another EDC, had no effect on PXR-mediated transcription, although this chemical significantly enhanced ER-mediated transcription. In the yeast two-hybrid protein interaction assay, PXR interacted with two nuclear receptor coactivator proteins, steroid hormone receptor coactivator-1 and receptor interacting protein 140, in the presence of phthalic acid or nonylphenol. Thus, EDC-occupied PXR may regulate its specific gene expression through the receptor-coactivator interaction. In contrast, these EDCs had no effect on the interaction between PXR and suppressor for gal 1, a component of proteasome. Finally, the expression of CYP3A1 mRNA in the liver of rats exposed to phthalic acid or nonylphenol markedly increased compared with that in rats treated with estradiol, bisphenol A, or ethanol as assessed by competitive RT-PCR. These data suggest that EDCs may affect endocrine functions by altering steroid hormone metabolism through PXR.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • COS Cells
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism*
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Phthalic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Pregnane X Receptor
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / physiology
  • Receptors, Steroid / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Steroid / physiology
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / physiology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Steroids / metabolism
  • Steroids / pharmacology
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Transcriptional Activation / drug effects*
  • Transfection
  • Two-Hybrid System Techniques


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Isoenzymes
  • Phenols
  • Phthalic Acids
  • Pregnane X Receptor
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Steroids
  • Estradiol
  • phthalic acid
  • nonylphenol
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • CYP3A protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • bisphenol A