Identification of genes controlled by the pregnane X receptor by microarray analysis of mRNAs from pregnenolone 16alpha-carbonitrile-treated rats

Toxicol Sci. 2006 Dec;94(2):379-87. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfl116. Epub 2006 Sep 22.


Mammalian liver contains a pregnane X receptor (PXR, NR1I2), which binds drugs and other xenobiotics, and stimulates (or suppresses) expression of numerous genes involved in the metabolic elimination of foreign compounds and some toxic endogenous substances. In the present study, we used microarray analysis to identify genes whose expression in rat liver was significantly altered by pregnenolone 16alpha-carbonitrile (PCN) treatment. PCN is a synthetic steroid that induces cytochrome P4503A expression and is hepatoprotective by increasing resistance to subsequent stressful insults. Significant induction was seen for 138 genes while expression of 82 genes was significantly repressed. We found induction of genes known to be induced by PCN, such as enzymes involved in drug metabolism and transport. In addition, many genes were differentially expressed whose functions concerned intracellular metabolism, transport of essential small molecules, cell cycle, and redox balance. Our results support the idea that the domain of PXR-controlled gene networks may be even more extensive than currently thought and may extend to functions apart from xenobiotic metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Pregnane X Receptor
  • Pregnenolone Carbonitrile / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Steroid / genetics*
  • Receptors, Steroid / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Nr1i2 protein, rat
  • Pregnane X Receptor
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Pregnenolone Carbonitrile