The far and distal enhancers in the CYP3A4 gene co-ordinate the proximal promoter in responding similarly to the pregnane X receptor but differentially to hepatocyte nuclear factor-4α

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CYP3A4 (cytochrome P450 3A4) is involved in the metabolism of more than 50 % of drugs and other xenobiotics. The expression of CYP3A4 is induced by many structurally dissimilar compounds. The PXR (pregnane X receptor) is recognized as a key regulator for the induction, and the PXR-directed transactivation of the CYP3A4 gene is achieved through a co-ordinated mechanism of the distal module with the proximal promoter. Recently, a far module was found to support constitutive expression of CYP3A4. The far module, like the distal module, is structurally clustered by a PXR response element (F-ER6) and elements recognized by HNF-4α (hepatocyte nuclear receptor-4α). We hypothesized that the far module supports PXR transactivation of the CYP3A4 gene. Consistent with the hypothesis, fusion of the far module to the proximal promoter of CYP3A4 markedly increased rifampicin-induced reporter activity. The increase was synergistically enhanced when both the far and distal modules were fused to the proximal promoter. The increase, however, was significantly reduced when the F-ER6 was disrupted. Chromatin immunoprecipitation detected the presence of PXR in the far module. Interestingly, HNF-4α increased the activity of the distal-proximal fused promoter, but decreased the activity of the far-proximal fused promoter. Given the fact that induction of CYP3A4 represents an important detoxification mechanism, the functional redundancy and synergistic interaction in supporting PXR transactivation suggest that the far and distal modules ensure the induction of CYP3A4 during chemical insults. The difference in responding to HNF-4α suggests that the magnitude of the induction is under control through various transcriptional networks. © The Authors.

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Biochemical Journal