Signaling control of the constitutive androstane receptor (CAR)

Protein Cell. 2014 Feb;5(2):113-23. doi: 10.1007/s13238-013-0013-0. Epub 2014 Jan 29.


The constitutive androstane receptor (CAR, NR1I3) plays a crucial role in the regulation of drug metabolism, energy homeostasis, and cancer development through modulating the transcription of its numerous target genes. Different from prototypical nuclear receptors, CAR can be activated by either direct ligand binding or ligand-independent (indirect) mechanisms both initiated with nuclear translocation of CAR from the cytoplasm. In comparison to the well-defined ligand-based activation, indirect activation of CAR appears to be exclusively involved in the nuclear translocation through mechanisms yet to be fully understood. Accumulating evidence reveals that without activation, CAR forms a protein complex in the cytoplasm where it can be functionally affected by multiple signaling pathways. In this review, we discuss recent progresses in our understanding of the signaling regulation of CAR nuclear accumulation and activation. We expect that this review will also provide greater insight into the similarity and difference between the mechanisms of direct vs. indirect human CAR activation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus / genetics*
  • Constitutive Androstane Receptor
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Protein Transport / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*


  • Constitutive Androstane Receptor
  • Ligands
  • NR1I3 protein, human
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear