Introducing the "TCDD-inducible AhR-Nrf2 gene battery"

Toxicol Sci. 2009 Oct;111(2):238-46. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfp115. Epub 2009 May 27.


2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) induces genes via the transcription factor aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), including Cyp1a1, NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 (Nqo1), UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 1a6 (Ugt1a6), and glutathione S-transferase a1 (Gsta1). These genes are referred to as the "AhR gene battery." However, Nqo1 is also considered a prototypical target gene of the transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). In mice, TCDD induction of Nrf2 and Nrf2 target, Nqo1, is dependent on AhR, and thus TCDD induction of drug-processing genes may be routed through an AhR-Nrf2 sequence. There has been speculation that Nrf2 may be involved in the TCDD induction of drug-processing genes; however, the data are not definitive. Therefore, to address whether TCDD induction of Nqo1, Ugts, and Gsts is dependent on Nrf2, we conducted the definitive experiment by administering TCDD (50 mug/kg, ip) to Nrf2-null and wild-type (WT) mice and collecting livers 24 h later to quantify the mRNA of drug-processing genes. TCDD induction of Cyp1a1 and Ugt1a1 was similar in WT and Nrf2-null mice, whereas TCDD induction of Ugt1a5 and 1a9 was blunted in Nrf2-null mice. TCDD induced Nqo1, Ugt1a6, 2b34, 2b35, 2b36, UDP-glucuronic acid-synthesizing gene UDP-glucose dehydrogenase, and Gsta1, m1, m2, m3, m6, p2, t2, and microsomal Gst1 in WT mice but not in Nrf2-null mice. Therefore, the present study demonstrates the novel finding that Nrf2 is required for TCDD induction of classical AhR battery genes Nqo1, Ugt1a6, and Gsta1, as well as most Ugt and Gst isoforms in livers of mice.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / genetics
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone)
  • NADPH Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / genetics
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / toxicity*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / metabolism*


  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1
  • NAD(P)H Dehydrogenase (Quinone)
  • Nqo1 protein, mouse
  • NADPH Dehydrogenase