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Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) and pregnane X receptor (PXR) regulate xenobiotic sensing and metabolism through interactions with multiple exogenous and endogenous chemicals. Compounds that activate CAR are often ligands of PXR; attention is therefore given to discovery of new, receptor-specific chemical entities that may be exploited for therapeutic and basic research purposes. Recently, ligands of the peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR), PK11195 and FGIN-1-27, were shown to modulate both CAR and PXR. PBR is a mitochondrial transport protein responsible for multiple regulatory functions, including heme biosynthesis, a major component in cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes. To investigate possible new roles for PBR involvement in metabolic regulation, expression of the CAR and PXR target genes, CYP2B6 and CYP3A4, was measured in human hepatocytes following treatment with a targeted PBR ligand set. Luciferase reporter assays with transiently expressed wild-type CAR (CAR1), splice variant CAR3, or PXR in HuH-7 cells were used to further study activation of these receptors. Four structurally related PBR ligands (benzothiazepines) differentially modulate CAR1, CAR3 and PXR activity. Benzothiazepine NF49 is an agonist ligand of CAR3, a partial agonist of PXR, exhibits greater inverse agonist activity on CAR1 than does PK11195, and is a new tool for studying these closely related nuclear receptors.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.