UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) are conjugation enzymes, which are regulated in a tissue-specific manner by endogenous and environmental factors. In this study, we focused on UGT1A isoforms (UGT1A1, UGT1A6 and UGT1A9), mainly expressed in the human liver, and examined the inducibility of UGT1As by beta-naphthoflavone (BNF) in human hepatoma HepG2 cells. The cells were pretreated for 72 h with BNF at concentrations of 25, 50 and 100 microM. 7-Ethyl-10-hydroxycamptothecin (SN-38) glucuronidation, used as a probe for UGT1A1, showed sigmoidal kinetics with a Hill coefficient (n) of 1.2-1.3 in control and BNF-pretreated HepG2 cells. The Vmax values were significantly increased 3.6- to 4.3-fold by BNF, whereas there was no significant change in the S50 values by BNF at any concentration examined. On the other hand, 4-methylumbelliferone (4-MU) glucuronidation as a probe for UGT1A6 and UGT1A9 in the control and BNF-pretreated HepG2 cells exhibited a biphasic kinetic pattern. Although Km1 values for the low-Km phase were similar between the control and BNF-pretreated HepG2 cells, Km2 values for the high-Km phase of BNF-pretreated HepG2 cells were reduced to 54-69% of control HepG2 cells. The values of Vmax1 and Vmax2 for the low- and high-Km phases, respectively, were significantly increased 1.9- to 2.6-fold by BNF at 25 and/or 50 microM but not 100 microM. With respect to Vmax (Vmax1 and Vmax2) and Vmax/Km (Vmax1/Km1 and Vmax2/Km2), the values were significantly increased 2.0- to 3.2-fold by BNF at all concentrations examined. Furthermore, real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction using TaqMan probes demonstrated that BNF concentration-dependently induced mRNA levels of UGT1A1 but not UGT1A6 or UGT1A9 in HepG2 cells (1.3- to 6.0-fold). These results suggest that the inducibility of UGT1A isoforms in HepG2 cells by BNF is different from other aryl hydrocarbon receptor agonists previously reported, and should provide useful information for the prediction of drug-drug interactions and toxicological assessment of environmental chemicals.