Analysis of Ah receptor-ARNT and Ah receptor-ARNT2 complexes in vitro and in cell culture

Toxicol Sci. 2008 May;103(1):191-206. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfm300. Epub 2007 Dec 20.


ARNT and ARNT2 proteins are expressed in mammalian and aquatic species and exhibit a high level of amino acid identity in the basic-helix loop-helix PER/ARNT/SIM domains involved in protein interactions and DNA binding. Since the analysis of ARNT2 function at the protein level has been limited, ARNT2 function in aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR)-mediated signaling was evaluated and compared to ARNT. In vitro, ARNT and ARNT2 dimerized equally with the AHR in the presence of 2,3,7,8-tetracholorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and ARNT2 outcompeted ARNT for binding to the AHR when expressed in excess. In contrast, activation of the AHR with 3-methylcholanthrene or benzo[a]pyrene resulted in predominant formation of AHR*ARNT complexes. ARNT2 expressed in Hepa-1 cell culture lines with reduced ARNT protein resulted in minimal induction of endogenous CYP1A1 protein compared to cells expressing ARNT, and mutation of the putative proline residue at amino acid 352 to histidine failed to produce an ARNT2 that could function in AHR-mediated signaling. However, the expression of ARNT2 in wild-type Hepa-1 cells reduced TCDD-mediated induction of endogenous CYP1A1 protein by 30%, even though AHR*ARNT2 complexes could not be detected in nuclear extracts. Western blot analysis of numerous mouse tissues and various cell culture lines showed that both endogenous ARNT and ARNT2 could be detected in cells derived from kidney, central nervous system, and retinal epithelium. Thus, ARNT2 has the ability to dimerize with the liganded AHR in vitro and is influenced by the activating ligand yet appears to be limited in its ability to influence AHR-mediated signaling in cell culture.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Nuclear Translocator / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Primers
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / metabolism*


  • ARNT2 protein, human
  • Arnt2 protein, mouse
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • DNA Primers
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Nuclear Translocator
  • DNA